A GALVANISED Gisborne is ready to throw everything at Sandhurst in Sunday’s BFNL qualifying final at the QEO.
The Bulldogs were frustrated by the suspensions handed down to their own ruckman Tom Waters and Kangaroo Flat defender Linc Frost at the BFNL tribunal on Thursday night.
Waters was suspended for one week after being found guilty of headbutting Frost, while the Roos’ defender will miss the first three games of next year after pleading guilty to striking Gisborne’s Ethan Minns.
The Bulldogs are fuming that Frost didn’t receive a heftier penalty for his punch to Minns’ jaw, but coach Rod Sharp wants the club to focus on the future not the past.
“We’re playing in finals this week and Kangaroo Flat aren’t, so that’s all we can focus on,’’ Sharp said.
“With everything that’s happened I think you’ll see a galvanised Gisborne (on Sunday).”
The Bulldogs have been thumped by Sandhurst twice this season, but Sharp’s confident Sunday’s game will be a different story.
“When we execute our skills we can beat any team in the competition,’’ Sharp said.
“You only have to look at the way we played against Kangaroo Flat last week. Kangaroo Flat were playing for a spot in the finals and we made them look like they were on the bottom of the ladder.
“Whether or not we can do that against Sandhurst we won’t know until Sunday.
“It’s easier said than done, but Sandhurst is coming off a loss and they’ve bought in a lot of players into their squad who haven’t played much senior footy this year.
“How that affects Sandhurst as a group, I don’t know.”
Waters’ suspension hurts the Bulldogs’ ruck stocks. Youngster Andre Headberry will be his replacement in the ruck.
“Three or four weeks ago Andre was clearly in our best 18,’’ Sharp said.
“His upside is enormous. His running ability and athleticism is his strength. We’ve always thought he’d play his best football on the QEO on a dry day.”
Gisborne’s plethora of young players have stood up to every challenge Sharp has put in front of them this year.
While some young players can be like deer in the headlights in big finals, Sharp doesn’t expect that to be the case with his group.
“I’m excited that these kids are getting the chance to play on the QEO in a big final,’’ he said.
“I’d be very surprised if there was any stage fright.”
Shannon Greetham and Isaac Trickey have been the pick of the young players, while Trent Crosbie, who is a bottom age under-18 player, has created a big impression in recent weeks.
Greetham could get the tagging job on Ryan Maldenis or Nick Stagg, or he could play as a deep defender on the dangerous Mitch Dole.
Another teenager, Pat McKenna, is coming off a nine-goal haul.
McKenna, Ben Sonogan and Jarrad Lynch give the Bulldogs three dangerous, athletic forwards.
“We haven’t had a big, power forward all year, so we work with what we’ve got,’’ Sharp said.
“We need them to have an influence on the game if we’re going to win.”
Qualifying Final - Sandhurst v Gisborne, 2.20pm Sunday at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
T. Hartney, P. Jennings, H. O'Meara
T. Cole, M. Thornton, C. Price
A. Wharton, R. Maldenis, J. McLean
L. Ross, B. Anderson, L. Coghlan
M. Dole, R. Haythorpe, J. Wharton
T. Martin, B. Montague, N. Stagg
Inter (from): B. Evans, A. Waddell, S. Greene, J. Bateson, J. Coghlan, L. Ireland, L. Tardrew.
In: T. Hartney, H. O'Meara, T. Cole, R. Haythorpe, B. Evans, S. Greene, L. Ireland, L. Tardrew.
Out: A. O'Connor (inj)
I. Trickey T. Walsh C. Medica
S. Comerford H. Simpson H. Govan
J. Bain C. Summerfield R. Patterson
T. Crosbie B. Sonogan T. May
E. Minns J. Lynch P. McKenna
A. Headberry S. Greetham J. Govan
Interchange: A. Belcher, S. Walsh, R. Sharp, O. Messaoudi
In: A. Headberry
Out: T. Waters (suspended)