Form forwards eye their goals
EVERYONE loves a good shootout in AFL football. Those old enough to remember recall with fondness the days when Tony Lockett was at one end and Gary Ablett snr at the other, exciting the masses with their goal-kicking prowess.
While not in the same league, the Summerland AFL grand final combatants today, Lismore and Tweed Coast, have two of the league’s best sharpshooters, and making the most of their opportunities in front of goal will go some way to determining their premiership chances.
The SAFL grand final will be played at Fripp Oval, Ballina, a venue that will suit both sides with its expansive wings, deep pockets and plenty of space through the middle.
Teenager Jak Johnston, who learnt his football in Townsville, was the Swans’ leading goal-kicker this season and came second in the league to the Tigers’ Jason Bolt, who booted 59 goals.
The 19-year-old Swans beanpole, in his third year in senior football, has had his best season playing against men.
“To kick 50-plus goals is pretty rewarding,” he said.
“It feels good because I feel I have some good footy ahead of me.”
Johnston has had a birds-eye view of his team-mates this year and has liked what he’s seen in the past month.
Lismore were on the verge of missing this year’s finals but a final-round win over the Byron Magpies secured their place.
A follow-up win against the same opponents in the first semi-final and a thumping win over Ballina in the preliminary final put the Swans through to the big game today.
“We’ve had a fantastic few weeks at the Swans,” Johnston said.
“The intensity has stepped up to another level right across the paddock. Our momentum is strong at the moment and I’m looking forward to the game.”
Key to both sides’ chances today are how their forwards shape up.
While Johnston and Bolt have stood out for their respective teams, Tweed Coast have had the luxury of spreading the goal-kicking duties.
This season, 11 Tigers players have kicked double-figure tallies and three have booted more than 40 goals.
The big-bodied Tigers seemingly have the physical edge over the lithe-looking Swans but Lismore’s pace is their ace.
How the Swans counter man-giant David Round, a dual Grogan Medal winner in the QAFL, will be crucial to who gets first use of the ball from the stoppages.
And how the Tigers fare without Arnold Knight, awarded the league’s best player but who was suspended for two games and will miss the grand final, will be but one of several subplots this afternoon.
SAFL PREMIERS: 2009 Byron, 2008 Byron, 2007 Byron, 2006 Ballina, 2005 Ballina, 2004 Byron, 2003 Byron, 2002 Ballina, 2001 Byron, 2000 Byron, 1999 Byron, 1998 Murwillumbah, 1997 Murwillum-bah, 1996 Ballina, 1995 Ballina, 1994 Byron, 1993 Byron, 1992 Byron, 1991 Murwillumbah, 1990 Lismore, 1989 Lismore, 1988 Lismore, 1987 Lismore, 1986 Lismore, 1985 Byron, 1984 Goonellabah.