Finals hit Tigerland tomorrow: Here's what you need to know
A HUGE super Saturday at Tigerland kicks of AFL Northern Rivers finals footy tomorrow with all three Tweed teams in action.
Ahead of the big weekend, the Tweed Daily News caught up with the three Tiger coaches to evaluate their teams' chances on what will be a momentous day down at Seabreeze Oval in Pottsville.
Motivation no issue for senior Tigers
SENIORS coach Jonathan Bevan has played down his sides' dominance over Lismore throughout the season, saying anything can happen this weekend.
Thanks to a quirk in the fixture, both Tweed's seniors and ressies teams will take on Lismore in the first final after playing the Swans in the final round.
As has been the case all year, the seniors had no trouble with Lismore last week, defeating the last-placed Swans by 101 points.
But Bevan says you can throw all that out the window.
"It's pretty simple now - if we lose, it's season over,” Bevan said.
"We know that if we aren't at our best and don't give (Lismore) the respect they deserve, things might not go our way.”
Bevan said his side has, just in time for finals, overcome some of the player availability and injury issues that can be difficult to manage in the back half of the season.
"We've been playing ok,” he said. "Our form can always be better but I think under the circumstances the guys that have been there on a Saturday have performed really well.”
Despite losing versatile midfielder Nathan Brown last week to a dislocated elbow, Bevan said the team has a reasonably clean bill of health.
But Brown, who can win the ball himself while also shutting down the opposition's best midfielder, will be hard to replace for the Tigers, and Bevan is keen to see who is going to step up.
"Someone like Josh Robinson, who is coming back from injury and played a great game last week, we're hoping can build into a great finals series,” Bevan said.
"And Aaron and Damien Ahsby should provide some real spark.
"Those experienced guys: Phelps, Dennerley, Thor, should also hold us in good stead.”
- Tigers Seniors vs Lismore Swans - 2.20pm
Tigresses peaking at the right time
A MINOR slip-up in the final round should not distract on-lookers from the bigger picture of the Tweed Tigresses' season.
Heading into last week the Tigresses reeled off a five-game win-streak while playing their best footy of the season, with a couple of big scalps along the way.
Meanwhile, the Tigresses have proved they harbour no fear toward ladder-leaders Ballina, having defeated the Bombers multiple times this year.
But before they have any chance at another crack at the Bombers, the Tigresses must handle business against Byron this weekend, who have gone winless in 2018.
Tigresses' coach Shane Art believes his side has been developing a belief all year that it can play good football when it counts in September.
"We've worked a lot on our skills and it's really starting to come through,” Art said.
"Our new girls in their first year have really understood the game and improved their skills and fitness.
"We're finishing the back end of games quite well, and that will put us in good stead for finals.
"The girls are executing the style and values that we have. They've embraced it.”
Art says if those values shine through on game day, he's confident his team will take care of the Maggies.
"It's been a consistent message, and we think what we've been working on should stand up in finals,” he said.
The Tigresses will be boosted by the return of Kirri Walle for the first final, while Art said he is looking forward to seeing the likes of Chantelle Douly provide a strong marking presence and Blossom Grimshaw cracking in from the first contest.
- Women's Tigers vs Byron Magpies - 12.30pm
See-saw rivalry looms in ressies
WHEN the Tigers ressies spoilt the party in Lismore for the Swans' grand-opening of the brand new, AFL-financed, multi-million dollar Oaks Oval footy ground, Tweed's second-unit had left a languishing Lismore squad blushing.
Such was the nature of the defeat that day that the Swans then moved to put together an effective but unoriginal plan to save some face: stacking the ressies.
The Swans bit back in round 14, defeating the Tigers by a hefty 51-point margin and announcing themselves as a premiership threat.
The rivalry took another turn last week in final round action when the Tigers, against the odds, defeated the loaded-up Swans by eight points at Seabreeze.
Now, according to coach Anthony Pope, absolutely "anything can happen”.
"It's been a good turn-around because obviously they gave us a good hiding a few weeks ago,” the Pope said.
"To turn it around the boys showed a lot of heart.
"We're not a particularly talented team but we do have a lot of heart and endeavour.
"We're going in quite confident this week.”
Pope, who after playing in the ressies all year is tipped to step back and ply his tactical craft on Saturday, says he expects Lismore's squad to be well-tooled.
"They'll be very strong,” he said. They'll turn up with a predominantly senior team I'd suggest.
"There is word that they've been stacking their ressies. But hey, that's football, and we'll play anyone who turns up.”
- Tigers Reserves vs Lismore Swans - 10.45am
All matches played at Seabreeze Oval, Pottsville on Saturday, September 1