Sea Eagles soar into decider
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.
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.