Minor premiers Yeppoon take on Norths in Sunday showdown
RUGBY LEAGUE: They've been the benchmark all year and now the Yeppoon Seagulls have the chance to be the first team into the big dance.
They played hard and fast against all comers and finished as minor premiers, dropping just one of their 18 games in the regular season.
They've had a week off courtesy of their first-place finish and are refreshed and ready for a big showing in the major semi-final at Browne Park tomorrow.
But standing in their way is a Norths outfit that dismantled second-placed Rockhampton Brothers in a dominant semi-final display last weekend.
Brothers will now line up in tonight's elimination semi at Browne Park against Emu Park, who scored a hard-fought 34-30 win over Biloela.
Yeppoon coach Scott Minto watched last week's game and described it as a "near-faultless game of football” from Norths.
But he has every confidence in his side after a remarkably consistent season, a solid semis preparation and knowing they line up close to full strength.
"Norths are similar to us in that they're young and play with a lot of enthusiasm,” he said.
"We like to play fast and we like to play aggressive and our style of footy lends itself to keeping pressure on opposing sides.
"When we get it right it's really hard to negate and I think that's why we've had a fair bit of success.”
Minto said the experienced trio of Sam Holzheimer, George Grant and Gavin Hiscox had excelled all year in controlling the middle corridor and getting the team moving forward.
That had allowed the dynamic halves pairing of Parry Boland and Cody Grills to work their magic in attack.
Minto cannot emphasise enough the importance of preparedness and believes that has been a key factor this year.
"The biggest thing is to prepare well and I think that's something we've done better this year than we have in the past couple of years,” he said.
"It's a cliche, I know, but it really is about having everyone on the same page.
"The most pleasing thing for me is that everyone in our team knows their roles - I can put anyone in that side and they do the same job as the bloke who just left the field.”
Minto loves the excitement of finals football and cannot wait for Sunday.
"This is what you do it for,” he said.
"You start training back in December with a view to getting to this point where you have a shot at the grand final.
"We know what's at stake and we'll be turning up and fully prepared to meet a tough footy side on Sunday.”
Norths coach Kane Hardy said his troops were injury-free and ready to go again after their impressive 31-point win over Brothers.
"The boys turned up to training knowing that we played some good footy (last week) but realising we've got a lot more work to do,” he said.
"We've been focusing on getting our preparation right and working on all the little things that have been working for us.”
While Norths hooker Darcy Davey and half back Dean Allen were outstanding against Brothers, Hardy said it was a complete team performance.
"Everyone did their job last week and we need everyone from one to 17 doing their job again this week,” he said.
"I think our bench will play a big part this week. They've really got to raise the bar when they come on.
"Yeppoon plays very fast football. They rely on their go-forward and they've got quick outside backs that come in and do some damage.
"We've just got to stay in the game with them for as long as we can and take our opportunities. Every time we get a chance we've got to take it because they're hard to crack.
"We've got to make sure we execute and get it done.”
Men's semi-finals at Browne Park, Rockhampton
- 6pm Saturday: Rockhampton Brothers v Emu Park
- 3pm Sunday: Yeppoon v Norths, Browne Park
Women's semi-finals at Marley Brown Oval, Gladstone
- Noon Sunday: Tannum v Emu Park
- 1.30pm Sunday: Wallabys v Rockhampton Brothers