23 October, 2020
Preliminary Final Review - Saints v Cutters
If the last two times these clubs met is any indication, we are in for one hell of a Preliminary Final.
The first encounter in Round 7, at the Saints home ground saw the Cutters come away with a 10 point win.
Josh Barnett kicked 3 goals for the victors, whilst Cade Wellington helped himself to 4 of his own for the home side. There’s some doubt that Wellington will take his place in the Saints side tomorrow due to injury.
Their second meeting, only two weeks ago was a thriller with the Saints getting up by the slenderest of margins, one point.
The Cutters led all day at home and held what looked like a match winning margin of 20 points at the last break. Dwayne Bosen was great up forward that day for the home side and booted 5 goals, the Saints will be very mindful of him in tomorrow’s do or die final.
The Cutters came into the finals winning one of their last 4 games which included a 14 goal drubbing at the hands of the very side they eliminated last week, Cairns City Lions.
The South Cairns coach John Tootell will take a lot of confidence from that effort which was highlighted by an incredible pressure game that didn’t allow the Lions talented outside runners any time when they had the ball.
Saints also have a plethora of outside runners that will need to be kept in check, so you would expect a similar mindset from the Cutters this week. Undoubtedly the Cutters, major weapon is their ruckman Jake Roach who was incredibly dominant last week and not only gave his midfielders first use, but he at times became another midfielder by taking the ball away himself and sending it forward with long kicking.
The Saints on the other hand, had reasonable form coming into finals only dropping one of their last four games which to the very impressive. It will be interesting to see how Port Douglas respond tomorrow after again being soundly beaten by the Crocs in last weeks Qualifying Final, to the tune of 96 points. After going down to the Crocs in the home and away season, firstly in round 5 by 82 points and then in round 12 by 126 points they were afforded the bye the following week which can help with the mindset of players after such heavy losses.
After their Qualifying Final loss last weekend, they now meet a South Cairns side that is high on confidence. If the Saints ruckman Zebedee Paulger can hold his own against Roach and at least halve most ruck duels and not allow him to dictate the contests, I give the Saints a real chance of getting another shot at the Crocs in the big one next week.
This would give the Saints playmakers in Novy, Clarke, Messenger & McConachy a chance to give their forwards such as Travaglini, Tedmanson & Galea opportunities to kick a winning score. I will also be interested to see how the Saints playing coach Wes Glass uses himself throughout the day. Does he play in his customary floating defender role where he sets up a lot of attacking moves with his courageous marking and will he combine that by having a run through the midfield?
Whatever happens in the way of strategy, it promises to be a great game and I would predict it will be as close as their past encounters this year. The team that can settle first, play smart football, not be overawed and make the most of their scoring opportunities on an often windswept Cazalys Stadium, that will get an opportunity in a Grand Final against Port Douglas who have been doing everything right.