Sea Ea­gles soar into de­cider

Whitsunday Times - - SPORT - Daniel McKen­zie

AUS­TRALIAN RULES:

Whit­sun­day are set for a shot at their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive AFL Mackay pre­mier­ship af­ter a 56-point drub­bing of North Mackay in the sec­ond semi-fi­nal last Satur­day night.

Un­der lights at Har­rup Park, the mi­nor pre­miers turned it on in the sec­ond half to run out 13.15 (93) to 5.7 (37) win­ners and ad­vance di­rectly to the Al­lied Pick­ford’s Cup grand fi­nal on Septem­ber 15.

With the mar­gin at just 12 points at half-time, the Ea­gles piled on nine goals to nil af­ter the main break to blow the Saints away.

“It was pretty tight in the first half, but the boys put the foot down and brought it home re­ally well,” Sea Ea­gles coach Luke Som­merville said.

“Our mid­field started get­ting on top, Mitch Bell in ruck started hit­ting a few tar­gets, and we tried to ro­tate mid­field­ers.

“We started to have the legs there in the sec­ond half so that got us over the line.”

The match was the first un­der lights for the sea­son for both sides and a slip­pery ball played a part as play­ers strug­gled for clean pos­ses­sion.

Look­ing the more flu­ent, the Sea Ea­gles were able to hurt the Saints on the turnover, par­tic­u­larly in the mid­dle of the field, but Som­merville said de­ci­sion making let his side down at times.

“We need to work on gen­eral de­ci­sion making and our skills un­der pres­sure to make sure we’re making the right choices and hit­ting tar­gets,” he said.

Con­versely, the Saints now move into a pre­lim­i­nary fi­nal, with one more shot at making the grand fi­nal.

Saints coach Craig Jenk­ins said his side would need to fo­cus on its ef­fi­ciency and team­work.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, mainly skill work un­der the (night) con­di­tions as af­ter half time the slip­per­i­ness of the ball def­i­nitely caught us out,” he said.

“Our in­side ball was ter­ri­ble, if you’re go­ing to be a match against any side, you need to hit your tar­gets and you need to be play­ing team foot­ball.”

Jenk­ins said the sec­ond-half was telling, as his play­ers were un­able to ex­e­cute the plan.

“We knew Whit­sun­day were not go­ing to stop, so I put it on the boys to put the ex­tra pres­sure on and lock down man on man,” he said.

“We just have to con­trol the foot­ball and make sure it’s ours and put the score­board pres­sure on.

“There was too many missed shots, but give it to Whit­sun­day, they’ve got the skills and are a hard team to stop.”

With the week off, the Sea Ea­gles will in­crease their train­ing load to com­pen­sate, in hopes of claim­ing a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive pre­mier­ship.

“It’s prob­a­bly some­thing pretty spe­cial,” Som­merville said of go­ing back to back.

“To win one is fan­tas­tic, but two in a row, that’s what you strive for, to keep win­ning them.

“We’re not over con­fi­dent, but we’ll give it a fair crack.”

The sea­son is over for the Whit­sun­day re­serves fol­low­ing their loss to North Mackay in the first semi-fi­nal.

Dar­ren Semm­ler, also named best, and Kyle Rose bagged two goals apiece in the 6.6 (42) to 5.3 (33) de­feat.

PHOTO: DANIEL MCKEN­ZIE

SET­TING IT UP: Whit­sun­day Sea Ea­gles ace Ryan Lee looks for op­tions down the field dur­ing last Satur­day night’s 56-point sec­ond semi-fi­nal drub­bing of North Mackay.

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