Devils pitch for win wary of Tigers big match threat

HAVING played or coached in 10 finals over more than a decade, Jamie Burns has confidence in his Norths A-grade side.

However, the self-confessed laidback coach is also an honest assessor of hockey.

He said the big unknown at the Ipswich Hockey Complex today was how the usually dangerous Devils respond after a week off.

"It was just a chance to chill out from it all,'' he said of the benefits of beating today's opponents Easts in the major semi-final two weeks ago.

"I'm torn both ways.

"I don't know whether it's a good thing to go straight through because there's always that chance you can lose momentum. But it's also good to have that break if you do have injuries."

Norths are masters at capitalising on finals momentum, having been one of Ipswich's most successful A-grade club teams since winning their first premiership in 2000.

Norths clinched last year's grand final in a 4-3 extra-time thriller, having won the preliminary final.

Burns has a full strength side today, hoping to ignite another premiership streak like Norths achieved from 2003-2007.

"They are easy to train but they are hard to coach at the same time," Burns said of his playing group.

"There's blokes with that much experience, they look after themselves. That makes my job easier having a level of skill."

The team has a wealth of finals stalwarts like captain Mark Pocock, Australian Country player Dean Jeffrey and former Queensland representative Tobias Figura.

This year's side also includes dual registered state under-21 player Jared Taylor and rising state junior goalkeeper Kyah Andrew-Sharrad.

Other reliable Norths campaigners include Aaron O'Bierne, Nick Maddocks and Anthony Woodward.

O'Bierne has become the team's extra-time goal-scoring specialist, having netted the winner in the major semi-final and last year's grand final.

Burns said Easts' major threat was their firepower, with Tim Woodford, Dan Mantell and Steve Bayliss lethal close to the goal circle.

However, he's glad the two best teams have made the grand final, even if means another nerve-racking drop-offs decider is possible.



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