Eagles regain enthusiasm being a finals' contender
AFTER an eight-game winning streak even Ipswich Eagles head coach Kym Mansell had trouble containing his excitement.
His main focus this season was helping the Limestone Park-based club rebuild for the future.
But with his Aussie rules team playing some terrific footy, thoughts turned quickly to making the finals for the first time in a few years.
That was going well until last weekend's disappointing seven-point loss to Pine Rivers, just as Ipswich was building some fine momentum.
A combination of below-par performances, ill discipline and illness contributed to Ipswich's uncharacteristic effort.
However, after two encouraging training sessions this week, Mansell believes his QFA Division 3 senior team is ready to show what it is capable of.
The third-placed Eagles play Redcliffe in Saturday's top grade elimination encounter at 2pm, after Ipswich's Reserve Grade side tackle the same club opponents in their knockout semi-final from 11.30am.
Mansell's message preparing for two big home finals was to forget about last week.
"We had two good sessions this week so the enthusiasm is up at the moment,'' he said.
After the Pine Rivers setback, rediscovering that extra energy was essential.
"We needed enthusiasm, we needed to focus, to make sure that we wipe out the last time we played these guys,'' he said.
Comfortable wins in preliminary games count for little during finals.
While some players have been battling the dreaded flu, Mansell was confident of fielding a strong line-up on Saturday.
The clubs have been allowed to name extra players to cover for injury and illness sweeping South East Queensland at this time of the year.
Mansell was particularly monitoring regulars Al Poulton and Jaike Bowen.
However, he expects a boost from the return of backline duo Jordan Godfrey and Nathan Macklin, who were missing last weekend.
Experienced footballer Mansell is also looking for a big game from promising young forward Duran Dick, who was quiet against Pine Rivers.
Captain Tyson Watts is back after managing an ankle injury.
Having watched his team exceed expectations this season, Mansell said his Eagles players had everything to play for.
"I told the boys we've got to where we are now. No-one expected us to get here,'' Mansell said.
"I said 'but let's just not make the first week (of finals) . . . let's keep going'.''
The winner of Saturday's main match between Ipswich and Redcliffe plays the loser of the qualifying semi-final between Victoria Point and Carrara in the next stage of the finals race.
QFA Division 3 elimination finals: Saturday (11.30am and 2pm) - Ipswich Eagles v Redcliffe Tigers at Mark Marsh Oval, Limestone Park.