By Holly Slattery
Bond University face a premiership litmus test when they take on UQ in the QAFLW grand final rematch this Saturday.
The Bull Sharks started their campaign with an emphatic 85-0 victory over Wilston Grange, but it’ll be a different challenge against the defending premiers who beat them 95-55 in last year’s decider.
UQ started their title defence with a comfortable 53-18 over Maroochydore last week.
Bond midfielder and former captain Shannon Danckert is hopeful for an early win against the reigning premiers to build confidence and a fresh name for themselves.
“I know that everyone is kind of looking forward to moving on from the results from last year and moving forward with the new season we have ahead,” Danckert said.
“With fresh faces and a lot of young players, I think that the team is going to go into the first game against UQ feeling completely fearless, as they should, because they’ve got no pre-existing expectations.
“We’re in a really good position going into the game and I think it’s going to be an exciting one to watch.”
Both teams will have mass changes from last year’s decider, but the 25-year-old says it’ll still be an intense clash despite the absence of AFLW players on both sides.
“I think this game will probably be quite different to any other game we’ve played with UQ,” she said.
“We played them early last year when there were no AFLW girls in the mix and it was mostly just QAFLW girls, and then played them later in the season when both sides had their AFLW crew in as well.
“This time, there won’t be any AFLW girls involved but the level of QAFLW has gone up, so I think the standard is going to be better and almost more raw which will be really good to see.”
Trepidation among the UQ team is setting in with this weekend’s reckoning just around the corner.
“I think it’s going to be one of the best seasons,” UQ’s best and fairest last year Megan Hunt said.
“Every year you can just see how much better the competition is and the standard is getting so much higher.
“Just coming off our pre-season, we’re feeling really confident and I think everyone’s in the same boat.”
Hunt has become a fixture of the Queensland AFL scene and having represented UQ for six consecutive seasons, the 26-year-old is familiar with what it takes to contend with Bond for premiership success.
“All through last year, they [Bond] were undefeated so we all knew that they would be hard to beat [in the grand final],” she said.
“Even though we beat them in the granny, we’re not going to let them off easy [this round].
“They’re an unreal team and we know they’re going to be good this year.”
The blockbuster clash will play out on UQ’s home turf and be livestreamed on Cluch on April 2 from 4.45pm.