TO borrow a line from the horse racing industry, Golden Square coach Mark Lloyd expects his team to be “better for the run” in tonight’s Bendigo Football League second semi-final against Gisborne at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
Golden Square last week escaped with a 13-point win over Sandhurst in the qualifying final to earn tonight’s crack at top-of-the-ladder Gisborne.
However, while Square was outplayed by the Dragons for much of last Sunday’s game, Lloyd’s expecting an improved showing tonight with his side now having one final under its belt.
“We had seven or eight guys last week who played in their first final,” Lloyd said yesterday.
“So that was obviously a big occasion for a lot of them... some played well and some were a bit scratchy.
“But having had that experience of last week, we believe that will hold us in good stead going into tomorrow night’s game, which we know is going to be a massive challenge against a quality side Gisborne.
“Gisborne obviously finished on top of the ladder for a reason, so we know we’re going to have to be at our best if we’re to get over the line.”
A win tonight would propel Golden Square into its fifth-consecutive grand final, while Gisborne will be striving to play in its first grand final since its heartbreaking two-point defeat to Eaglehawk in 2007.
Such has been the sustained success of Golden Square and Gisborne, one of these teams has been a part of every grand final since 2001.
Golden Square named an extended squad of 24 on Thursday night and won’t finalise its team until this afternoon.
“We’ll wait and see what the conditions are like tomorrow before we decide on the make-up of the team,” Lloyd said.
“There’s the opportunity to get through to a grand final, so whoever the 22 are who run out tomorrow night, we need them to all work hard and play their role.”
Among the inclusions into the Golden Square team is Lloyd, who makes his return from a hamstring injury suffered against Sandhurst on July 28.
Golden Square – which has won all seven finals it has played since losing the 2008 grand final to Eaglehawk – has also regained another of its elite players in Luke Hammond, who was a late withdrawal last week.
Golden Square named captain Simon Rosa, despite a groin injury scare late in last week’s match.