Rivalry renewed in battle for finals
PALMERSTON and Waratah were the league’s biggest rivals in the late 1990s, playing in one grand final and several other qualifying finals.
Today’s 4pm clash at Asbuild Oval is another minifinal as both sides push to end frustrating finals droughts.
The Magpies have not played a final since their 2010 elimination final loss to the red and white jumpers, while Waratah’s loss to Wanderers in the 2014 preliminary final was the last time they played on the March stage.
Waratah coach Ryan Ayres liked what he saw from his players in their tough win over a determined St Mary’s eight days ago.
“It was a massive win for the players after the two demoralising losses going into Christmas,’’ Ayres said. “The big positive was how they bounced back and regrouped through the work they did over the Christmas period.
“There’s a lot of confidence within the group and that’s a good thing. You’ve got to have it in any sport and we’re champing at the bit to play finals footy again.
“But obviously there’s a lot of footy to go between now and then. Every side’s highly competitive and you can’t take any games for granted.’’
Ayres side his side had a lot of skilful players through the midfield where the depth of the group was pretty strong.
Abe Ankers, James Wray, former SANFL Eagle Sam Flanegan and big leaping ruckman Zach Westerberg adds up to a powerful engine room.
Palmerston ruck rover Sam Talbot will lock horns with his old side.
“Tahs are playing some pretty good footy right now, so we’ve got to play to our structures and make sure everyone turns up wanting to play the right game style,’’ Talbot said.
Clever big man Matt Dennis, midfielder Mitch Bunworth and playing coach Alwyn Davey are Magpies who have to put their hands up today.
“It’s a must-win game after we let last week’s game slip. I put it down to concentration lapses, where we’ve obviously got the talent and now we’ve got to put in a four-quarter effort to get the points,” Talbot said.