PHOTO: SPROULE SPORTS FOCUS
Match of the Round
Hamilton Olympic v Lambton Jaffas
1 pm Saturday 26th August at Darling Street Oval
Last Meeting: Semi-Final – 1st Leg 2017: Lambton 2 Hamilton 1 at Arthur Edden Oval.
Ladder: Lambton 3rd (39), Hamilton 2nd (40)
Last 3 Starts (most recent first):
Hamilton – Lost Jaffas 1-2 (a), Lost Magic 1-2 (h), Won Roosters 4-0 (a)
Lambton – Won Olympic 2-1 (h), Won Jets 4-2 (a), Lost Magpies 1-2 (h)
It’s simply the rivalry that keeps on giving and last weekend Lambton and Hamilton didn’t disappoint playing out another close contest.
Based on their recent finals battles expect this one to go the distance and do be surprised if there is an extra 30 minutes or even penalties after 90 minutes on Saturday.
Effectively it is half-time in this contest, and the big question going into the second instalment is just how crucial will Ben Hay’s stoppage time strike be in the wash-up?
Hay was the best player on the park on Sunday and ended a wonderful match with a strike to remember, and with Jobe Wheelhouse off the park, he was instrumental in the middle of the park.
For Hamilton, coach Michael Bolch is expected to start experienced striker Scott Smith alongside Kane Goodchild at the point of attack, and if their form at Darling Street Oval already this season is anything to go by expect them to link up and ask the Jaffas’ defence plenty of questions.
Incredibly, in three matches this season Lambton have claimed the victory spoils on all three occasions, however, all it takes is a 1-0 win for Olympic and a Jaffas season which promised so much could be over before Grand Final Day.
There will be simply no excuses for either side on Saturday and it is all set up for a cracking showdown. Three matches this season and just a goal between the sides on each occasion.
There isn’t really much more to add, apart from the fact that it may be Hamilton coach Michael Bolch’s last match in charge at Olympic.
It has been an incredible eight-year long spell at the club, and no doubt his side will want to extend his stay for one more week.
Lambton holds the slight edge going into week two, but at Darling Street Oval, Olympic has lost just one of their last eight.
What the Coaches Said:
Mick Bolch (Hamilton)
“I don’t think [our approach] does [change], to be honest. We were always going to need to score a goal this week. Whether we need to win 1-0 or 2-1 to go to extra-time or whatever the score is, to me it doesn’t change. We still go out, same shape, same formation and you just adjust to what happens in the game realistically. If we score first and lead 1-0, they sort of need to come at us to get a goal and if they score first we need to score two. The tactics will change will the flow and the score of the game.”
“It’s more about the players, it’s not about me. It’s all about the players, they deserve to have another chance, another Grand Final after all the hard work they have put in and hopefully they will get there rewards this weekend.”
Key: At halftime in both regular season fixtures so far, this season Olympic were in front. It’s half-time in the finals and Lambton have the lead. Will it be an omen?
Edgeworth Eagles v Broadmeadow Magic
7:30 pm Saturday 26th August at Jack McLaughlan Oval
Last Meeting: Semi-Final – 1st Leg 2017: Broadmeadow 0 Edgeworth 1 at Magic Park.
Ladder: Broadmeadow 4th (39), Edgeworth 1st (43)
Past 3 Starts (most recent first):
Broadmeadow – Lost Eagles 0-1 (h), Won Olympic 2-1, Won Jets 2-0 (h)
Edgeworth – Won Magic 1-0 (a), Drew Roosters 2-2 (h), Won Phoenix 5-0 (a)
For last season’s Grand Finalists, it simply all comes down to this weekend. Last weekend was incredibly tight in trying conditions at Magic Park and Edgeworth deserved to come away from the first leg with a slender 1-0 lead.
The most significant question heading into this weekend’s clash is whether Broadmeadow has the potency to break down the Eagles backline.
In three matches this season Magic has scored just one goal against the Eagles – a penalty scored by Peter Haynes in the opening round – and they will need at least a goal this weekend to ensure they stay in the contest.
With Kale Bradbury, James Virgili and Dino Fajkovic in the front third Broadmeadow certainly have their options, but of late both Bradbury and Fajkovic have been relatively quiet.
The former is in an uncharacteristic five-match barren spell and the latter hasn’t found the back of the net since round 15. Even Virgili has scored just once in his last three matches.
Scott Pettit is the man in form for Magic lately, scoring in three straight matches before the first week of the finals.
The Eagles will be hoping to continue the unhappy run in front of goal for Magic’s front men.
For Edgeworth, a huge slice of history goes on the line this weekend. Win and they keep their hopes alive for the triple-double – winning the Premiership and Championship in three consecutive years.
Only one side has achieved that feat in Northern NSW top flight – the Weston side of 1971-73 – and no side has achieved it on four occasions.
On a Saturday night at home, with an away goal as well as a 1-0 lead, everything points to an Edgeworth victory.
But, in semi final football stranger things have happened, and if Magic can reach their second straight Grand Final, it would be a victory for the ages.
What the Coaches Said:
Damian Zane (Edgeworth)
“[Our approach] is the same as last week. Play mistake free football. It really is half-time. I’m not sure how they will come out. Someone said to me they will come out at you and I was like, will they? I don’t know if you exactly want to come out all guns blazing because we are pretty good at taking the pressure and then hitting you on the break, and then the tie will be pretty much over. I think it will be in the same mould as the first-half last week, to be honest.”
“No, probably not [we won’t approach] too differently. Our ground is the best ground in the league, to be honest. You saw at Broadmeadow how bouncy it was and Lambton was awful on the weekend. You are going to be able to play a bit at our ground and that suits us I know. We prefer to get the ball down and play, so yeah we want more of the same really. At the end of the day, we keep a clean sheet and we are home.”
Ruben Zadkovich (Broadmeadow)
“Tactically we don’t need to change too much. We just need to execute a little bit better. We had a few boys disappointed with how they played [last week]. In a one-off game now any win is good for us, whether we win 1-0, 2-1 as long as we win. If it goes to penalties we will back ourselves. We just know we have to go to Edgeworth and win and psychologically that is a really good thing for us.”
“I do. [I like being the underdog]. I don’t think my boys do, I think they’d rather be in Edgeworth’s shoes where they are the top dog and they have won three straight Premierships. We’ve got that underdog tag deservedly because we haven’t beaten them in nine games and we haven’t had the success that they have had in recent years. Whether we like it or not that is what we’ve got. On a personal level, I like being underestimated and proving people wrong. It’s been fun doing that most of the year.”
Key: Can Broadmeadow’s attack do what they have been unable to do in their last two matches against Edgeworth and find a way through their defence?