A new competition starts this Saturday for Premier men, as week one of the final series kicks off.
There is no place for complacency as teams try to stay alive for 2012. Minor premiers Richmond Rovers can relax and enjoy their senior presentation Saturday night, knowing that their four possible opponents will have been reduced to three before the sun has gone down.
Lismore Workers host defending major premiers Goonellabah at 3pm and despite having the home advantage, coach Scott Collis and his players must be still hurting from seeing the minor premiership slip from their grasp. With that silverware heading to East Lismore, the Redmen will focus on the prize that all teams strive for and be determined to get a tilt at Rovers for grand final qualification by defeating the Hornets in this one.
Leading goal-scorer Martin Kelleher will be a marked man given his stellar year and with veteran striker Wayne Mortimer a perennial class performer, Goonellabah can expect scheming raids upon them. Defending the title is a main mission for the Hornets, despite a very different squad from last season.
Experienced captain Daniel Morrow is the perfect general from central defence with his constant chat and reliable play. Instructions from coach Mark Ambler will be to keep a high defensive line and squeeze the Worker's attack, to reduce their renowned strategy of playing the width to go forward.
Goonellabah's strikers Batok Ring and Dave Annetts are dangerous when given the slightest opportunity. Workers keeper Simon Cleaver, who has trained with the Melbourne Heart in rigorous daily sessions through the week, will hope that he applies the benefits of many things learned from the Heart coaching staff as he is sure to get plenty of work.
The second semi-final is at Byron Bay, when the Rams take on Lismore Thistles at 2pm Saturday. The Rams are a real enigma, as their performances have fluctuated from brilliant to ordinary and injuries have impeded their continuity as well. Jordy Campbell is a class player and Sam Robson has been about the most consistent defender, with tough-as-teak Aaron Richter Steers a key man in Peter Ware's game plan.
The Blues scrambled over the line to make the semi-finals and finishing fifth gives them no more life-lines. Thistles are resilient and historically play like street fighters, performing well when their backs are against the wall. Both games should be absolute crackers and may the best teams be worthy winners.
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