Grand final favourites receive boost facing Tiger threat
A RARE luxury of being able to field the same 19 footballers has come at just the right time for grand final favourites Goodna.
Eagles head coach Alistair Taua'aletoa was heartened to have all his semi-final winning players ready to face a hungry Norths Tigers outfit in Saturday's Volunteers Cup title decider at the North Ipswich Reserve.
Although backing his pacesetting team's experience and youthful exuberance, Taua'aletoa knows the Tigers present a worthy opponent.
"I always said Mick (Newton) is a very smart coach,'' Taua'aletoa said.
"They are a very tough side and as the competition has gone on, they have gotten significantly better than when we played them those first two times.''
Norths are the only team to have beaten the Eagles this season, something the Goodna coach was mindful of.
"That's probably one of the biggest reasons why we are here at this point now,'' he said.
"It showed the boys they are not invincible and hopefully we can pay them one back tomorrow.
"With any team that we play, we have to pay them the respect that they deserve.
"We have to be up for it as much as they are.''
Taua'aletoa rated Tigers centre Tonga Mounga among the most dangerous opponents on Saturday.
"He's scored four or five tries against us already,'' the Goodna coach said. "He's definitely someone we have to watch.''
He said Gerico Cecil off the bench was also someone the Eagles needed to take care of, especially his second phase play.
However, as he has all season, Taua'aletoa has shown immense faith in the Goodna young guns, led by the team's experienced core including Ramon Filipine, Kaustio Magele and the unstoppable pointscoring machine Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga.
The coach said the most pleasing aspect of last weekend's 38-12 win over West End was how his team recovered facing early pressure.
"It was the boys' attention to detail, especially in responding to those two early tries,'' he said.
He said Goodna's defence on the right edge, featuring Filipine, Trivendra Naidu and Fa'at'ape Timai, contained the dangerous West End threat led by Harold Mosby.
Taua'aletoa has also been encouraged by development of Goodna's spirited young brigade.
"We've tried to exploit the opportunity to utilise a lot of youth this year and I think it's paid off us with a grand final appearance,'' he said.
Having a stable line-up strengthens Goodna's hopes.
"We've got no major injuries. We're looking at the same team as we were last week,'' the coach said.
"I think it's the first time that we've actually had the exact same team from one week to the next.''
After last week mentioning the risk of fatigue at this stage of the season, Taua'aletoa said keeping his team mentally balanced was also important.
"The biggest thing for me was just making sure the boys didn't feel the weight of expectation,'' he said. "Just make sure they enjoyed the week for what it was.
"It's been a really long four months.''
Under-17 matches featuring Redbank Plains, West End, Goodna Eagles and Norths Blue will be played before Saturday's A-Grade decider.
Meanwhile, the Norths Tigers Ipswich Open women face the Ormeau Shearers in Sunday's SEQW Green grand final at Pathian Park (Norths Devils home ground in Brisbane).
The match kicks off at 1.30pm.
The Norths Tigers Ipswich Open side outclassed the Redlands Parrots 32-6 in last Saturday's semi-final at the North Ipswich Reserve.
Last Saturday's Under 6 and 7 Gala Day at Ipswich's rugby league headquarters was a huge success. Young players learnt how to tackle as part of the NRL Player Development Framework.
RLI Volunteers Cup grand final: Saturday (3pm) - Goodna Eagles v Norths Tigers at North Ipswich Reserve.
Noon: Redbank Plains v West End
1.30pm: Goodna Eagles v Norths Blue