Whatever the result, finals build character

'THE agony and the ecstasy'- what an apt description of a junior AFL final - particularly last weekend's one-point loss by the Coolangatta under-16s and the two-point loss by the under-18s.

Along with the disappointment and tears, there were strong life lessons learnt and strong friendships cemented.

If there are any doubters out there about the atmosphere and passion evoked by finals, head up to Labrador today to watch the navy blues from Coolangatta play in under-12s and 14s in the second semi-finals.

Or, tomorrow at Merrimac Oval, watch the gallant under-18s, hoping to atone for last Sunday's heartbreaking loss.

They plan to ground down the Burleigh Bombers and win through to the grand final.

Fitness, skills and a good game plan are necessary ingredients in all games, but it is character that is in highest demand in finals.

The coaches of all three teams are certain that they have chosen teams with bucketloads of this final ingredient.

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WHAT affect should last week's defeat have upon the previously unbeaten St Kilda?

Will it be creeping self-doubt or simply “beaten but not bowed”?

Is the famous Ross Lyon's dam wall leaking and will opponents mimic Essendon's rapid run-and -carry approach into the Saints' defensive 50 metre zone?

We shall wait and see, possibly tomorrow with the Kangaroos, inspired by news of Brad Scott's appointment as new coach.

The Saints then face the underwhelming Demons the following week, so we might have to wait until the finals to fully assess the integrity of the dam wall.

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CONFUSED about interpretation of the rules?

Try explaining push-in-the-back rules (Rule 15.4) to an outsider!

How do you give a coherent justification of a forward being rewarded with a free if his opponent touches his back with a hand - even with a little pinky.

It is a contact sport, isn't it?

And then moments later, with a ball in dispute on the ground, it is acceptable to have multiple opposing players jump into and onto the back of the player with the ball.

The decision in this case is more likely against the player with the bruised back and will be “holding the ball”. In that famous red head's words “please explain”!

• • • 

THE season has finally ended for the once-proud Coolangatta seniors.

This season has been a disappointing year results-wise.

Time to reflect; to plan, to recruit and to tap into the rich stream of promising juniors flowing through the system.

It's interesting that Springwood, who also had an unhappy year in Pineapple Cup, have a highly-rated under-18 team, like Cooly.

As these players mature, we expect parallel rises up the ladder over the next couple of years.

• • • 

GOOD, Bad and Ugly -

Good - Graham Polak rejoins Tigers today at the MCG. A year ago he nearly died when hit by a tram. What an inspiration!

Bad - More sad than bad - the exodus of Swans who took the club to that most memorable premiership in 2005. Going or gone this year are Tadhg Kennelly, Barry Hall, Michael O'Loughlin, Leo Barry, Jared Crouch and Nic Fosdike. With the advent and necessary competition of the Western Sydney team, how many years before we see your like again at the SCG?

Ugly- The melee involving 18 players in a match between Magpies and Tigers. It looked more like a schoolyard blue than professional footballers three weeks out from the finals. Aren't there are enough opportunities to show toughness and commitment during the game?

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