Energised Eagles repel threat chasing back-to-back titles
FUELLED by a creamy donut, Eagles midfielder Leah Sibbick hung tough when her team needed it the most.
She had to as Ipswich's elimination final opponents mounted a testing final charge assisted by the wind.
Along with her determined defensive teammates, the former Raceview soccer player repelled Pine Rivers to secure a spot in next weekend's QFAW Division 2 North semi-final.
The defending champions will face last year's grand final runners-up Hinterland with the winner advancing to this season's title decider.
Sibbick, who shared in Ipswich's historic premiership win last year, agreed her team had to find its inner strength to beat Pine Rivers 11-3 in the blustery Limestone Park conditions.
"They (Pine Rivers) certainly didn't stop,'' Sibbick said. "They were hard to slow down.
"We always give their best and never give up.''
Sibbick is a self-confessed Aussie rules convert having played soccer for 19 years before trying the different football code.
"It was just a bit of a change,'' she said, having only missed one game this season.
But some routines don't alter too much.
"Every game before a game I have a donut,'' said the electrician who gives the team added spark.
Eagles coach Clint Bateman rated Sibbick's effort "outstanding'', along with other midfielders like Sophie Crawford.
With backline linchpin Lara Boon on the sideline with a season-ending knee injury, Bateman praised the entire team in holding out Pine Rivers.
Experienced vice-captain Stephanie Cockerill-Wright was another standout, especially in the final quarter with her decisive clearance kicks under pressure.
"It was just a battle all over the field,'' the coach said, happy with his team's fitness.
"I think that's been our strength. We're running out games a lot better than we were last year. "It's just this year is a tougher competition.''
Bateman conceded it was nerve-racking in the final quarter, especially with Pine Rivers having the last use of the wind.
"We played them two weeks ago and they beat us over there,'' he said. "We knew it was going to be tough.
"It was definitely blowing down the far end one way each quarter so I said to the girls it's going to be a game of two halves - one against the wind and one with the wind.
"I just felt we needed to get that one goal and we would have run over them.
"As a coach, you want to be winning early but it was a great game.''
He gave Pine Rivers credit coming to Ipswich.
"They didn't stop. They put up a fight and you see they were playing for their season,'' the Ipswich coach said.
STATE OF PLAY
QFAW Division 2 North elimination finals: Ipswich Eagles 1.5-11 def Pine Rivers 0.3-3; Jindalee 5.3-33 def Alexandra Hills 2.0-12.
Semi-finals next Saturday: Ipswich v Hinterland, Noosa v Jindalee.