Ri­valry re­newed in bat­tle for fi­nals

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - GREY MOR­RIS

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.

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