De­fence key for Crush­ers

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TRENT SLATTER trent. slatter@ news. com. au

HER­BERT River Crush­ers coach Ian Schi­fil­itti in­sists win­ning the TDRL mi­nor premier­ship won’t be their fo­cus when they host the West­ern Lions in a block­buster fi­nal- round clash to­mor­row.

The Crush­ers need to beat the first- placed Lions by 23 points or more to lock up top spot ahead of next week­end’s fi­nals, while also hop­ing that Brothers don’t beat Bur­dekin by more than 58 points.

It’s a com­pli­cated sce­nario and one that Schi­fil­itti said Her­bert River won’t be con­cern­ing them­selves with, in­stead aim­ing to lift their in­ten­sity with a win over the com­pe­ti­tion’s bench­mark team.

“To be hon­est with for and against the way it is, we’re just try­ing to get a win up head­ing into semi- fi­nals. We want to put a semi- fi­nal in­ten­sity into this game,” the coach said.

“We’re ac­tu­ally pretty much 1- 17 from last week and might have the re­turn of Lind­sey Kirk out on the wing. It’s just the one to come back in so we’re not look­ing too bad.

“It’s a bit of con­ti­nu­ity. Ev­ery club has in­juries, but this year for one rea- son or an­other we’ve just strug­gled to put the same team out any longer than two or three games.

“We got a good win last week­end, but I think there’s cou­ple of things we def­i­nitely want to look at im­prov­ing — par­tic­u­larly de­fen­sively — head­ing into the fi­nals.”

The Lions are al­ready push­ing for an A- grade premier­ship in just their se­cond sea­son, but the Crush­ers are one of just two teams to beat the Heat­ley- based side this year.

Her­bert River pre­vailed 44- 10 when the two sides met in Ing­ham in Round 6, but Schi­fil­itti said the Lions had too many at­tack­ing weapons to let their guard down. “It’s been a re­mark­able turn­around for the Lions and full credit to ( coach) Josh Tow­ers. He’s moved them a long way in 12 months,” Schi­fil­itti said.

Mean­while, Norths will have one last shot to se­cure a break­through vic­tory when they host Univer­sity at Peggy Ban­field Park tonight.

The last clash be­tween the com­pe­ti­tion’s cel­lar dwellers ended in a 36- all stale­mate and both sides will be de­ter­mined to fin­ish their sea­sons on a high.

In Sun­day’s matches, third- placed Brothers will be out to make a state­ment be­fore the fi­nals against Bur­dekin at Jack Man­ski Oval, while Cen­trals will take on Char­ters Tow­ers at Townsville Sports Re­serve.

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