STRATHFIELDSAYE co-coach Darryl Wilson has taken a low-key approach to the Storm’s finals campaign.
The Storm are just one win away from their first BFNL grand final appearance and clear flag favourites, but the lid is well and truly still on at Flight Centre Park.
“The experience of last year’s finals campaign has helped,’’ Wilson said on Friday.
“The players know what to expect. Overall, we’ve kept things very calm. We’re getting ready to play a game of footy against a quality opponent.
“We’re not putting any extra pressure on ourselves. We think we’ve got the tools to do well, it’s just a matter of how we execute things.”
There’s no excuses for the Storm on Sunday.
This will be the first game since round one that the Storm have had their best 22 on the park.
Wilson expects young gun Vinnie Flood to make his return from a broken arm.
“At this stage Flood will play,’’ Wilson said.
“He trained strongly last night and now it’s just a matter of making sure he doesn’t pull up sore.
“We expect him to play.”
Flood’s inclusion will give Golden Square’s hierarchy some headaches.
Flood, Shannon Geary and Lachlan Sharp are all likely to start inside 50 alongside key forwards Sam Mildren, Kris Lea and Tom Bartholomew.
The Bulldogs like to free up Mark Lloyd and/or Nathan Bell across half-back, but they will have to be on their game defensively against either Flood, Geary or Sharp.
“I think we match-up well against Golden Square,’’ Wilson said.
Strathfieldsaye is the only team Golden Square is yet to defeat this season. The Storm won comfortably in round two, before the clubs played out a tough low-scoring encounter in round 11.
Bulldogs coach Rick Ladson said his side was better prepared now to tackle the Storm.
“We’re playing much better now than we were back then,’’ Ladson said.
“The second game was a great contest, but we just ran out of petrol in the final quarter.
“Both teams have made changes since then, so there’s not too much you can take out it.”
Ladson admitted the Bulldogs were spent after last Sunday’s win over Eaglehawk in the qualifying final.
“It was a warm day and it was a taxing game, so we’ve had to recover accordingly,’’ Ladson said.
“Training last night was really good and we’re confident we’re in good shape.”
Ladson said the Bulldogs would take a positive attitude into Sunday.
“Strathfieldsaye is a quality side and they have plenty of firepower, but I’m confident the players that pull on a Golden Square jumper on Sunday will beat their opponent on the day,’’ he said.
This year’s meetings: Rd 7 at Strathfieldsaye - Strathfieldsaye 17.14 (116) d Golden Square 8.7 (55).
Rd 11 at Golden Square - Strathfieldsaye 11.6 (72) d Golden Square 8.8 (56).
Key match-ups: Kris Lea (Strath) v Travis Baird (GS) – Baird has a point to prove after being left out of last week’s final for disciplinary reasons. He’ll try to run off Lea and set up Square’s attacking bursts. Storm will test Baird’s accouantability by playing through Lea as much as possible.
Kellan Smith (Strath) v Simon Rosa (GS) – Smith is the Storm’s number one tagger and Rosa is Square’s class factor. When the game needed to be won last week it was Rosa who produced some telling touches. Smith has the discipline to make Rosa’s day hard.
Leigh Prior (Strath) v James Bristow (GS) – Bristow is Square’s most dangerous forward. He took eight marks and kicked three goals last week, but one gets the feeling he’ll need to kick five or six majors if the Bulldogs are to win tomorrow. Prior has had another solid year at full-back for the Storm. He’ll get help from Ash Trollop floating in as the third man to the contest.
Tips: Adam Bourke - Strathfieldsaye 18; Luke West - Strathfieldsaye 20; Nathan Dole - Golden Square 11; Travis King - Strathfieldsaye 15; Richard Jones - Strathfieldsaye 27.