Bull Sharks powerhouse forward Madi Schuck is inching closer to a 2021 premiership
By Pat McLeod
Bond University Rugby club has already posted their most successful season, now it’s time to reap the rewards.
This weekend four Bull Sharks’ teams – Premier Women, Second Grade, Colts 1 and Colts 2 – will be contesting the semi-finals of the Brisbane Premier Rugby Competition.
This is the most number of teams Bond has had in the finals series. The winner of each of this weekend’s elimination semi-finals will progress directly to the grand finals the following weekend in the Covid-shortened finals series.
Here is how each of the Bond coaches are approaching this weekend’s matches:
Bond Premier Women v GPS (at GPS 5pm Saturday) – Head Coach Lawrence Faifua:
“We are in a good place. Going into the finals having that (Covid-enforced) break was a good thing for us. We are re-energized.
“We trained really, really well this week. The coaching staff did not have to do much at all. We just stood back and let the girls take control - just as it should be around finals time.
“We know GPS’s strengths. What they do really well is make it a grind. They like to slow things down. We are totally the opposite. If we fall into their trap and let it become a slug-fest we will get into trouble.
“If we focus on our strengths and play to our plan, then we should come out alright.
“We want a quick game, right across the park. That is our focus – everything done quickly. Move the defence and tire them.
“GPS are a much bigger side. But, our girls play well above their weight. We have got quality players in our forward pack. They don’t mind getting in there and banging as well, but that will start to take its toll at the back end of the game. That is where we have to play smart footy.
“If we are smart on Saturday we win the game.
“This is probably the strongest team that we have fielded across any round this season, from Number 1 to Number 23. No-one has seen us at our best yet and I think you will see that on Saturday.
“For leadership we will look to the likes of (13) Mel Wilks, (2) Tara Reed, (4) Aleena Greenhalgh and (1) Madi Schuck. But having said that, we play so well as a unit and that is one of our strengths – we play well as a team.
“We also have a strong bench with youngsters such as Skyla Adams, Shannon Symon and Imogen Hei, who will provide a heap of punch when they come off the bench.”
Bond Second Grade v Souths (at GPS 1.30pm Sunday) – Head Coach Damon Virtue:
“Like everyone, we are a little underdone in terms of game play because we have not played footy for five weeks. We have tried to come in quickly and get some conditioning into our players’ legs, then some ballwork, contact and fine-tuning our game plan.
“Mentally the boys are pretty excited because this is finals footy, so it wasn’t that hard to get the boys ‘up’.
“Realistically, we are lucky to be playing football and the boys see that. This is a good opportunity for us to advance and do something good at a time when everything across the world is doom and gloom with what is going on with covid.
“The break gave a few guys the chance to freshen up and recover because a few of us were pretty banged up. Now that they are fresh it is all about which team finds their rhythm quickest on the day. If you can get into sync with your game play and defence, then things will fall into place. So, it is all about the team that reacts best on the day.
“This finals series is a just reward for all of our players, but especially a core of this team who have been awesome all season and have built a real connection, despite players going up and down.
“It is great to have big Zac Moimoi back from injury and work commitments. He is a massive unit and a real game changer for us.
“We have quite a few leaders in our team, such as (10) Justin Bernstein, (12) Lloyd Johansson and (6) Tyler Bunting. They are the type of players who lead by example and that doesn’t require a lot of talking - it is more about actions.
“Bottom line, the boys will be chasing that ‘W’.”
Bond Colts 1 v Easts (at Norths 11.30am Saturday) – Head Coach Brenden Jones:
“We are in a really good spot at the moment. We have probably the best team all year, so the break has done us a big favour.
“We have (hooker) George Blake back playing for us. He was out injured and then playing in the senior grades. He was in the Reds squad this year and was also selected in the Australian Under 20 team.
“We also have Queensland Under 20s player (winger) Hamish Roberts back. He was out injured for most of the year. That has allowed us to have our top centre pairing of Zalyrius Patelesio- Faamausili and Isaac Hawkins back together, with James Nicholls back at fullback and Ethyan Martin on the wing.
“We are very keen to get back into it and it is all about the boys not making mistakes. For both teams on Saturday, it will be a case of getting your teamwork and combinations back on track as quickly as you can after just a week’s preparation.
“Whoever deals with that best will come away with the points.
“Our focus will be to put points on points. Too often this season we would get points and then let the opposition score. We just couldn’t get that buffer.
“We will look to our leaders up front on Saturday. People like Nik Dehring, George Blake and Marlon Jones.
“It has been a work in progress all year, but right now we seem to be in the right place at the right time.”
Bond Colts 2 v Brothers (at Norths 10am Saturday) – Head Coach Derek Farmer:
“The turning point for Colts 2 came in the second round when we earmarked a number of games that we thought we could win.
“It all started with one particular game when I was quite blunt and told the players that we have a core of very talented young lads, but that they had all been under-performing.
“It was then that they were all honest enough to tell me that they were under-performing. And that is when the turn-around happened. We won a series of games including those against Easts, UQ and Brothers, who were all at the top of the table.
“So, nothing changes on Saturday. All teams are in the same boat as far as the break is concerned. Yes, we would have liked to have continued with the momentum that we had, but the break has also given injured players time to recover.
“On Saturday, we get a real good bite of the cherry. One plays four and the winner goes straight through to the grand final. It is one-each between Brothers and us this season, so this is like an Origin decider. We are clear about what we have to do and the boys are really excited.
“It is a real chance for them to stamp their authority and make a name for themselves in terms of Queensland rugby and themselves.
“They have come on in leaps and bounds and (coach) Mick (Barnao) and I are so proud of them and the way they have conducted themselves, grown as individuals, but more so how they have grown as a group.
“Critical for us on Saturday will be our spine - (2) Ryven Ewing, (9) Chris McClare, (10) Josh Radcliffe and (15) Sam Dalton.
“We also have other leaders like Nik Mitchell (7) and Luke Kofotua and impact players such as Tyler Maxwell and Tyler Gilbert.
“We just need to concentrate on our own game. We know what Brothers can do, but we just need to concentrate on what we do well and execute that.”