Southern & Ettalong v Terrigal
The stakes are higher than ever as Southern gears up to bounce back from last week’s tough penalty loss to Killarney. They’re leaving no stone unturned in their quest for redemption, setting their sights on a fierce showdown against arch-rivals Terrigal for the final spot in the 2023 MPL Grand Final.
Despite not coming away with the victory, Dale Eggleton and his men will take play of confidence out of last weekend’s Major Semi-Final showdown with the League Champions Killarney.
The Lions matched it with the competition’s gold standard for 120 minutes as nothing could split the two sides after extra time as the score remained locked at 1-1. SEUFC were the first to score in that contest midway through the second half after the almighty Keith Gumbs found himself one-on-one and clinically finished with power to give his side the lead.
However, that advantage didn’t last long as Killarney bounced back just minutes later and neither side was able to find a winner and the Lions failed to convert three out of their four penalties to record defeat against the Terriers.
Head coach Dale spoke on how his squad has reacted since the narrow loss. “Obviously the boys were disappointed, but I’ve watched and admired the self-belief, the resilience, the character and the attitude of the squad this year and they certainly don’t want this season to end before they have achieved what they want.”
Southern must now dust off any disappointment as they have a second chance at making the Grand Final as the reigning back-to-back Premiers stand in their way.
“Terrigal are the reigning premiers, and we know Saturday Night’s game will be tough,” voiced Dale.
Southern enters this Preliminary Final having got the better of their opponents in both of their meetings in the 2023 winter competition. Their first meeting in round 5 saw these two teams meet at Duffy’s as Southern prevailed 5-2 winners in one of their biggest victories of the season.
In round 14 when these two teams battled again, it was an extremely close affair that Southern won 2-1. When reflecting on this, Dale voiced “Through the season you learn plenty about yourselves and the opposition. We will be preparing for another Finals classic.”
“We have taken plenty out of last week’s Semi-Final and have recognized where we need to be better.”
Dale also observed what he believes could be the key to winning these big games and what major impact he will look for from his substitutes comes Saturday night. “Last week’s semi also showed how important your bench is in these games.”
The reigning and defending MPL Premiers will be extremely motivated and confident heading into this Preliminary Final with their foes, Southern & Ettalong.
In recent years no other team has seemed to thrive in Finals at Pluim Park more than the O’lads do. This was evident once again last weekend as Pete Edwards side met Berkeley Vale in the Minor Semi-Final and took control of the game from the first whistle.
With the pristine surface of Pluim Park allowing Terrigal to play to their utmost potential, the O’lads walked away 2-1 victors to keep their season alive and their goal of being crowned three-time Premiers still intact.
Pete Edwards commented on last week’s win as he stated he expects his side to be even better come Saturday. “Our performance last week against Berkeley was good, but I know we are still more than capable of producing even stronger performances and we will need to raise the bar again to make it to the Grand Final.”
“During the season, we have really struggled to find true consistency, mainly due to so many players changing in the starting line-up each week and having nine players out for the majority of the competition.”
Pete also gave his opinion on whether or not Southern enters the weekend with a slight advantage as they record two wins over his side in 2023. “Looking towards this weekend against Southern, the boys are very keen to get back out on the pitch and show what they can do.”
“Having said that, we know that only a near-perfect performance will be enough at this stage of the season. The lads will need to be completely focused and disciplined for the whole match. A single mistake could prove to be the difference on the day.”
“I actually feel that now we are close to being back at full strength, the previous games almost become irrelevant. We will go in confident of our gameplan, with great belief in our abilities, and ultimately it will come down to which team executes on the day and a few key moments that will define the game,” added Pete.
These two sides meet for the second year in a row in a do-or-die Finals contest. Last year, Terrigal got the best of Southern thanks to a late winner as they went on to win 2-1 and end Southern’s year.
Pete is well aware of the dangers the opposition possess and has high respect for Dale and what his team has accomplished. “Southern has had a fantastic season. Dale is a fantastic coach and has shown just how good his team is. They are physical, quick and very dangerous in front of goal. We will have to match them in all aspects come Saturday to try and stake a claim in the match.”
Pete also gave an insight into what he believes the advantages his team have and what will be key for them to get the job done this weekend. “When I look at what advantages we possess as a team, we have a self-belief that is second to none. This season we haven’t had to rely on a main goal scorer, the goals have come from so many different players, which makes it very difficult for teams to isolate our main threats.”
“We have shown that when it comes to big games we can rise to the challenge. When we play on good surfaces we can produce some great football and really express our style and abilities.”
Pete ended with one final statement, “To win on Saturday we will simply need to be at our best. Work hard for each other, compete in key areas and be extremely disciplined and organised. I’m always confident in our preparation and can’t wait to match up against a great coach and opposition.”
Match Official – Mark Roberts
All Preliminary Final Fixtures –