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Coopers Friday Night Footy - Woodsmen Grand Final Preview

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Coopers Friday Night Footy - Woodsmen Grand Final Preview

Andrew Thomson

The Woodsmen will take on Maroochydoore tonight in the QFA Friday Night Footy Grand Final in what promises to be hard fought battle.

Having met twice in the home and away season, and again in the major semi final - these 2 teams are well matched with the Woodsmen emerging victorious by 33 points in Round 5, 6 points in Round 14 and again by 6 points in the major semi final.

Fielding arguably their strongest side all year, the Woodsmen will be looking to keep a clean sheet of 4-0 in 2018 against the Roos, with one forced change to the side in Sam Banim being unavailable and replaced by Will Lloyd, while the duo of life member Gabe McKinnon and mercurial Shayne Baldwin also force their way back in after missing the first final through injury.

The Woodsmen are well rested after a weeks break, a godsend for some of the aging stars in the side, while also giving a few of the younger players a chance to recover from any niggling injuries.  With ages ranging from 19 to 39, its an eclectic mix that forms this team with a great mix of youth and experience.

Long the strength of the Woodsmen is a very stingy backline, and this week will be no different with the Woodies having a good mix of defenders able to play tall and small to counter the Roos tall forwardline, but also ready to counter attack when the chance comes.  In one pocket is Jamie Page, who plays a hard nosed defensive game, but loves to lay the foundations for attack with his run.  In the other is 'Mr Composure', Travis Young - not blessed with sublime speed, he never appears rushed, finds options via hand and foot and is superb in the air. In the key defensive posts will be Magpie stalwarts in Scotty Matthews and Gabe McKinnon, both highly experienced players who offer great footy smarts.  On one flank is the 'Minister of Defence' himself, David Jackson who at 39 plays like a 19 year old, single handedly getting the Woodies over the line in the Round 15 clash against Maroochydoore and the 2nd of the two Young brothers, Josh who is an attacking half back, brilliant in the air and not afraid to take the game on.

Across the centreline, the Woodies have the hard-working Tom Roderick, who as a first year Woodsmen has quickly become one of the more popular teammates for his supreme work ethic and team first attitude, not to mention his great skills off either foot.  On the other wing is the (former?) speedster Kiran Verma, offering plenty of chat and direction for his teammates and in the centre is the experienced Chris Judson who is an absolute wrecking ball around the contest to continually drive the Woodies forward with his unique ability to win the ball in tight.

Up forward, its a touch of class across the arc with the mercurial Shayne Baldwin on one flank, and the hard working Chris Davis on the other applying plenty of tackling pressure  to go with his pin point ball use going inside 50.  At centre half forward is the spearhead, competition leading goalkicker - Matt Hockley.  A beautiful set shot for goal, Hockley also has a strong work rate and sure hands both in the air and at ground level to be a constant threat around the goals.  Coming out of the square is the big left footer in Jason Evans, with explosive speed and strong hands he is hard to stop if the Magpies can get their delivery right, and should he bring the ball to ground he will have Ben Ness and Braydon Thomas at his feet ready to pounce.  Thomas is capable of bags of goals when he's up and going, and can also push up to the wing if needed, while Ness also forms part of the midfield rotation where he often gets leather poisoning.

Finally, the ruck division where a couple of older heads in Andrew Thomson in the ruck and Captain/Coach Chris Mihalopoulous are complimented by the superstar, Sammy Curtis.  Curtis is the king of the chase down tackle with his elite speed, but also wins the ball on the inside and outside with his clean hands and acceleration through the contest, while Mihalopoulos bodylines the footy and the experience of 300+ games sees his footy smarts play a key role at stoppages and he uses the ball beautifully. Thomson gives a good honest contest at the centre bounce, but comes into his own around the ground, usually winning plenty of ball in the back half and proving a nuisance for the opposition sitting a kick behind the play.

Starting on the bench will be the versatile Tim Green who will provide a chopout in the ruck, but can also play key position at either end of the ground.  The oldest player in the side is defender Chris La Burniy, who ironically is also probably in the best shape!  This gym junkie has great composure and can easily match up on talls or smalls thanks to his great speed, and incredible vertical leap.  Rounding out the interchange bench are Brenton Hocking, who forms part of the main midfield rotation but can easily push back or forward on the flanks as the match unfolds, while Will Lloyd will be deployed both forward and in the midfield where he can be extremely damaging around stoppages with his excellent vision and superb tackling pressure.

It promises to be a great night of footy as the Woodsmen do battle with Maroochydoore who are new to the competition after winning back to back flags in the Sunshine Coast / Wide Bay League and will be looking for the 'threepeat'.

Get down to Coorparoo to support the Woodsmen in the first Grand Final of 2018 to be contested by a side from McCarthy Homes Oval.


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