WE ARE down to the last four teams as week two of the semi-finals kicks off this Saturday, September 8.
The usual suspects are still left standing with Lismore Richmond Rovers, Lismore Workers, Goonellabah and Byron Bay ready for battle.
Goonellabah and Byron Bay will meet in a sudden death semi-final at Weston Park, on Saturday, at 4pm. The Hornets are the defending premiers and coach Mark Ambler has maintained a quiet confidence in 2012 as his charges have shown they are a force, despite being a different outfit to last season. The strike power of Batok Ring, who was selected in the Football Far North Coast Team of the Year, will be a critical gauge to the result. He and fellow striker Dave Annetts will of course need to penetrate the likes of Ian Lenie, Aaron Richter-Steers and Sam Robson and that will not be easy.
Reports that Thistles had plenty of chances against the Rams last week confirms again that the result is the only thing that counts in these big games. Byron has a match winner of their own in Jordy Campbell and with the loser of this match heading for post-season celebrations, we can expect nothing to be left on the park.
The other game is the major qualifying semi-final and there should be standing room only as minor premiers Rovers meet Lismore Workers.The games kicks off at 3pm at Bill Harris Field, East Lismore, and a fast open game is expected between the two best teams in 2012.
Workers' performance last Saturday was reported to be purposeful, controlled and well thought out, with every player contributing. Jay Keevers and Sam Sharkey at the back were again mature and reliable. Wayne Mortimer up front and 2012 player of the Year Martin Kelleher were dangerous. But it was young flanker Max Harlen, who was been strong this year, who scored twice.
The Redmen's end of season "slump" may have abated and coach Scott Collis should have a full squad to choose from as he plots a strategy to defeat Rovers. The winner will progress to the grand final on Saturday, September 22, and make a powerful statement about who is most likely to be crowned champions.
Rovers' squad is led by experienced midfielder Luke McWaide whose first year in town has been outstanding. With ageless striker Troy Matthews returning this season and playing vintage football, in addition to players of class and experience in Joel Saye and Russell Dent, Rovers will be hard to beat.
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