After producing a near-perfect season, Pine Central Holy Spirit Hornets head into this Sunday’s SEQW grand final against Runaway Bay Seagulls as heavy favourites, but coach Clinton Kyle knows “not to count any chickens until they’re hatched”.
“We are happy with our season and the way it has gone, we have only had the one loss this year; but with footy finals, anything can happen on the day, so we have just been training hard,” Kyle said.
“Our downfall in our last game against Carina – we started really well, we were up 18-0 at halftime and we lost 20-18 – so I know we can start well, it’s just (about) finishing off the way that we started.”
Like all competitions, it has been a unusual year for the teams in the women’s competition, but all season, Kyle just wanted his team to “control what they can control”; a mindset that has served them well so far.
“We had two byes coming into the final, but it was out of our control and it was one of those (things) where we finished on the top of the ladder to have the week off and we had a bye in the last regular round of the season,” Kyle said.
“But we have just had to deal with it and do the extra hard yards at training to make sure we are mentally switched on for the grand final.
“We have been doing the extra yards at training to make sure we are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, so we are mentally prepared for it.
“It’s a bit challenging, but what we have been focusing on is what we can control and I think that’s worked well for us this year to have that mindset where we only worry about what we can control."
While their only loss came in Round 7 against Carina; their opposition this weekend Runaway Bay will be hoping they can join the Tigers in bringing down the competition frontrunners.
Another key aim for Runaway Bay captain Rona Peters in the lead up to the grand final was to help her players get the most from the experience.
Peters has played in plenty of big matches before including for Maori All Stars and the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons; and while she was unable to take her place in the Brisbane Broncos NRLW squad this year due to the strict COVID-19 bubble conditions; it allowed her to guide the Seagulls to what will be the first grand final for many of the players.
“It’s been good, it’s been really good (to play with Runaway Bay), getting to just grow the game still with the pretty crappy year that we have all had; but being able to grow the game down here on the Gold Coast,” Peters said.
“I am pretty proud of the girls, how far they have come; there’s probably only six of us that really do know how to play league, the rest of us have learnt throughout the season really.
“For some of them, this is all new to them, so they are still sort of trying let it sink in.
“Everyone is excited, I am trying to bring a different culture to the team for finals day; the club has put on a breakfast for us on Sunday morning and we have got a few (vans) coming up to Brisbane, so that’s all really new for the girls; that’s the first time they are experiencing this kind of stuff.
“And we have got a jersey presentation; because we are not the first time making the women’s team final for Runaway Bay, so I have got former players who have been there at Runaway Bay before us (to present).
“One of them is Goose (Karina Brown), but she’s sending her wishes to us from her bubble in Sydney (with the Warriors NRLW side).
“There’s some girls we have got from the past coming to present (our) girls with their jerseys on Sunday morning at the breakfast.”
As for the game, Peters was hoping her side would be up to the challenge of matching it with the classy Hornets team who showed what they could do throughout a tough season.
“They have been pretty high-quality football games that’s for sure,” Peters said.
“Every game we have played, they have been tough games and it’s good to get good quality games rather than an ‘everyone is learning’ type of game.
“That’s the goal (to bring our best performance against the Hornets).
“We are probably just grateful and humbled to be in the grand final.
“The club have been very good to support us throughout the season, it’s been good.”
For Kyle, there have been many players who have stood up during the season for the Hornets and would be ones to watch in the decider.
“It was definitely a bit of a gelling year, we had about four or five players who had come through the ranks of the junior club and four of them are playing in the grand final on Sunday,” Kyle said.
“We have players like Ana Fotu and Kia Henry-Monaei who have represented in different codes at higher levels, and Kia represented PNG Orchids last year; she was also a junior through the club and through the ranks.
“And our seven, Ngahuia Blair, she represented Victoria and she is the sister of Adam Blair and she’s also the captain; with her football genealogy, she definitely adds a different aspect to the team and it’s been good having her on board.”
In the other divisions, Aspley Devils and Easts Mt Gravatt Eagles will start the day when they face off in the SEQW Orange grand final kicking off at noon.
The Devils finished on top of the table with six wins, while the Eagles snared five wins during the season.
The SEQW Green grand final will be played at 1.30pm with Ormeau Shearers up against Norths Ipswich Tigers. In 2020, the Shearers only lost one game, while the Tigers only lost two matches in a strong season.
Both matches will be livestreamed on the South East Queensland Division Facebook page, while the match between Pine Central and Runaway Bay at 3pm will be livestreamed on both the South East Queensland Division Facebook page and the Queensland Rugby League Facebook page.
Watch: Pine Central Hornets v Runaway Bay Seagulls
Keep track of the SEQW fixtures and results on the Play Rugby League website.
All matches will be played at Pathion Park in Nundah, the home of Norths Devils.
An entry fee of $5 for adults and $4 for pensioners will be charged, with children aged 18 years and under able to enter for free. EFTPOS will only be accepted.