Tigers, Bulldogs want free-flowing chance for upset wins
NORTHS A-Grade coach Mick Newton has an extra wish as his team battles the Toowoomba competition premiers in Saturday's Volunteers Cup semi-final at the North Ipswich Reserve.
"I'm hoping that it's free-flowing,'' Newton said.
"It's been terrible the last couple of weeks with the stoppages in the game.''
Against the reputable Valleys outfit, Newton knows opportunities to score will be crucial.
"It's a big challenge, most definitely,'' he said, finalising preparations for Saturday's 3pm encounter.
Newton conceded Valleys were dominant in the first game they faced each other in the inaugural intercity series. However, he said his team fared much better in the cold Toowoomba conditions in the return clash.
With warm weather forecast for Saturday, Newton expects his side to step up, especially having seasoned captain Chris Scanlan back the past two weeks.
Newton has used an extended squad this season due to injuries. However, he hopes to have the core of his best team available to tackle Valleys.
He was monitoring try-scoring talent Ty Humphries who was ill through the week, along with some other players.
The Norths coach was keen to get Lewis Smith back from a shoulder injury with hardworking frontrunner Lope Folau out with an ankle injury.
"We're filling gaps,'' Newton said, having managed a challenging injury toll in recent weeks.
"We've had to make some adjustments but the foundation of the squad is still there.''
Having enjoyed this year's Volunteers Cup series, Newton highlighted the major positives heading into the semi-finals.
"It's been good. It's been exciting just to playing football this year - give the boys a run,'' he said.
"They are all excited too. They are as keen as mustard so hopefully they take that enthusiasm into the game.''
Preparing for the second tussle at 5pm, West End coach Jae Woodward also hoped for more open play against the might of competition leaders Goodna.
"There's been lots of penalties,'' Woodward said.
"I'd like to see a bit more free-flowing footy as well.
"There's been lots of penalties across the competition.
"They are lineball calls . . . there's no spite and all that in the game.
"The games have been played in good spirits.''
Woodward welcomes back Robert Kennedy for the showdown with the high-flying Eagles.
That addition is handy after losing Reece Broadway.
Woodward said last week's 24-16 victory over Norths gave his team a chance to address some issues through the series.
"It was more about attitude over the last two weeks,'' the Bulldogs mentor said.
"I think our attitude is in the right place.
"Things are going to have to go your way to beat Goodna but if the younger guys show up and have a dig, I'll be happy whatever the outcome.''
Goodna coach Alistair Taua'aletoa was confident of fielding a strong side with the exception of regulars John Maili and Lele Ioane.
Second-rower Maili received a five-week suspension charged with a spear tackle against Gatton.
"That is a huge loss for us,'' the Eagles coach said.
Lock Ioane is also out with an ankle injury.
However, Taua'aletoa said his main challenge was keeping his team focused after winning nine of their 10 lead-up games.
"Mental fatigue is probably our biggest enemy at the moment,'' he said.
"Make sure the guys are up for a battle.''
He said playing in October was a factor to contend with.
"The guys aren't used to playing this late into the year,'' he said.
"They are usually having a few beers and barbecues by now so it's trying to get them ready for that (semi-final).''
He was ever respectful of the Bulldogs.
"I know everybody says that Goodna's a really big team but I feel like West End are physically a lot bigger than what we present,'' he said.
"So hopefully if we can just muscle up and wear them down, we should be able to get the job done.''
Like Newton and Taua'aletoa, Woodward appreciated the opportunity in this year's Volunteers Cup competition.
"It's been good that lots of guys have got experience playing at A-Grade level and it has been a pretty good competition,'' Woodward said.
Having all three Ipswich competition sides make the semi-finals augurs well for the future.
"It just shows our competition is at a reasonable standard,'' Woodward said.
Volunteers Cup semi-finals at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday
3pm: Norths v Valleys
5pm: Goodna v West End
A junior gala day starts at 9am.
An SEQW semi-final between Norths and Redlands is being played at 1.30pm.