NTFA division 2 2018, round 18: Lilydale, East Coast to rest stars ahead of finals

CHUGGING ALONG: Evandale star Tom Chugg will return for his first game in three weeks after sitting out a Uni-Mowbray clash and a bye.
CHUGGING ALONG: Evandale star Tom Chugg will return for his first game in three weeks after sitting out a Uni-Mowbray clash and a bye.

East Coast and Lilydale will take the heat off round 18’s grand final rematch, with both clubs opting to rest star players ahead of finals.

Demons coach Colin Lockhart revealed he would leave out eight of his 10 best players for the trip to St Helens, with Swans coach Ned Hyland set to take a similarly cautious approach.

“We’ve got a couple of little niggles so we’re going down fairly light,” Lockhart said.

“We can’t change our position on the ladder - we’ll finish second with a double chance.

“It’s not that we’re not going down to win, it’s that we’re going down to win the whole thing and we need to manage a few blokes.”

The Swans have been preparing to meet Perth in an elimination final next weekend, and will rest up some sore bodies against Lilydale.

“It’s a juggling act between staying in form and keeping your momentum going into finals, but then also doing some injury management with the players as the more important games come up,” Hyland said.

“We would like to win it but at the same time we need to be smart about how much we push bodies that may need a bit of time to get right.”

ST PATS coach Alex Russell is refusing to take it easy ahead of a clash with Bridport, and will field his strongest team in 10 weeks as the Saints look to secure top spot.

The Seagulls nearly caused an upset in round 6 before going down by 11 points.

“If we lose and Lilydale win we can finish second, so we’re really treating this as out first final,” Russell said.

“If we were to lose this game I’d be sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage hoping East Coast win, and we don’t want to do that.”

Bridport boss Adam Howlett said he was largely pleased with the season despite a run of close losses mid-season and urged his charges to go out with a bang. 

“If we get beat we get beat, I’m just after a good showing from our guys to finish off the year really well,” he said.

A win over Tamar Cats will be enough to seal third spot for EVANDALE.

Tom Chugg, Jarrod Allen, Phil Skinner and Mitch Stagg will be welcome additions against a Cats side riding the high of a win over Meander.

“We’re still treating it as if we’re playing off for third spot this week,” Evandale coach James Storay said.

“All things going well we should be playing Lilydale in a qualifying final so we’re looking forward to that.”

PERTH will line up in an elimination final next week providing they can avoid a 175-point defeat at Old Scotch.

“We should be close to full strength,” Magpies coach Josh Holton said.

“Scotch are a good team, we respect them pretty highly and they outworked us last time we played them, so we’re keen to pick one off since we haven’t beaten them in nearly 10 years.”