Murwillumbah ready for final showdown
By TANIA PHILLIPS
THEY have been the competition's best all season and one hell of a battle is expected when Murwillumbah Services and Griffith University face off tonight in the Gold Coast Soccer First Division grand final at Carrara Stadium.
The two teams have traded blows all season with Services edging out Uni in the battle for the minor premiership, and promotion to the top-flight Premier League in 2006, by just one point.
However, Uni turned the tables on Murwillumbah in their semi-final thriller, claiming victory in a penalty shootout to advance directly to tonight's decider while Services were forced to survive a sudden-death showdown with Beaudesert to seal a place in the final.
Murwillumbah, beaten in last year's grand final by Nerang, emerged from the elimination final unscathed and coach John Bruggy is confident his charges have the firepower to overcome their northern rivals.
"We are looking pretty good," Bruggy said.
"We didn't have our left fullback Tom Stanley at training but everyone else is training well.
"(Striker) Matt DeGroot is back and will be on the bench alongside Armadeep Singh who put in an impressive performance last week."
Injuries to key players, including striker Stian Madden have disrupted Griffith's preparations with coach John Palombo still to settle on a line-up.
"But, hopefully we will still have another good game," Palombo said.
"If that is the case I will be happy, regardless of the result."
In the reserve grade decider, Murwillumbah and Kingscliff will clash in what is expected to be a tight encounter.
"We know each others games well," Kingscliff Seniors Director Chris Ratcliff said.
"Our boys have played for them and their's have played for us.
"I don't expect it to be a pretty game - but it is always a battle."
Kingscliff have been boosted by the return from injury of striker Guy O'Brien while John Slattery (knee) and Steve Wright (knee) remained in doubt.
The reserve grade decider kicks off at 6.30pm with the First Division grand final scheduled to commence at 8.30pm.