Crocs final target as Saints defeat Cutters
FINALLY, it is the grand final we have all been waiting for.
After being clearly the best two teams in the AFL Cairns competition for the whole of 2018, Cairns Saints have advanced to the decider with an eye to stopping Port Douglas’ premiership run this Saturday afternoon.
It has been a running joke within local football circles that the season should just fast-forward to the grand final — such was the gulf between Saints and Port Douglas and the rest of the competition.
Saints were forced to go the long way to the grand final, but with a glut of players returning from injury, they regained some of their best form they had shown earlier in the season, ending South Cairns’s season in the preliminary final.
Injury luck has not been on Saints side of late and it got worse for them on Saturday as midfielders Joel Newman and Aaron Mullane finished the game with arms in slings. The duo are in doubt to face the Round 15 Port Douglas 16.11 (107) d Cairns Saints 15.12 (102) Round 6 Cairns Saints 17.7 (109) d Port Douglas 15.6 (96) Crocs in the big dance. The Cazalys Stadium finals breeze was on show as Saints kicked six goals with it in the first term, Cutters four in the second, three for Saints in the third before running defender Kieran Daley slammed the door shut on the Cutters early in the last term with a big goal into the breeze. After being bundled out early in 2016 and missing finals in 2017, Saints playingcoach Tim Lamprill is proud of his playing group’s growth and development this season.
“It has been a building process and we have put a new game plan in place and tried to get it going, we are finally starting to reap the rewards now,” Lamprill said.
“The boys are really understanding it now; it is becoming second nature instead of me having to bark for them to do things.”
Saints forward Tom Eltringham made his much-anticipated return from injury and was pushed further up the ground, instead of his usual role inside the goal square.
Both clubs pulled late changes from the teams they named earlier in the week, Cutters skipper James Dixon missing with a hamstring injury while Cameron Johns for Saints did not get up with a quad complaint.
Johns, a distributing defender, is a strong chance to return for the grand final.
The wasteful Cutters should have been closer at the long break and coach John Tootell expects some of his veterans to call time on their senior careers.
“The game got away from us in the first quarter and we were always on the back foot from there,” Tootell said.
“There is probably two or three that will hang them up from senior footy.”
AGGRESSIVE CONTEST: Saints’ Ryan Fielding tries to stop Souths’ Dwayne Bosen in the 2018 AFL Cairns Seniors contest at Cazalys Stadium.