The Bull Sharks face a nervous wait on the availability of skipper Paris Lightfoot who must pass a full contact fitness test on Friday night to earn her place in the side for Sunday’s QAFLW Grand Final.
Lightfoot sat out the second half of Bond’s qualifying final victory over Southport after suffering a shoulder injury.
With both the senior women and reserves teams in on the action, their journey to the Brighton Homes Arena this weekend is a culmination of an outstanding season.
The senior women will collide with the Aspley Hornets in a clash that is set to settle their evenly matched regular season.
Meanwhile the reserves women will face minor premiers the Coorparoo Roos.
Here’s what you need to know.
Last time they met
Having freshly conquered minor premiers Southport, Aspley will pose a formidable challenge in the Grand Final.
However, the Bull Sharks are no strangers to testing their mettle against Aspley.
The teams last met in round 13 where Bond emerged triumphant 75-45.
In contrast, the Hornets claimed a victory of their own in round 5 with a narrow 43-49 win.
The reserves women are still hunting their first victory over Coorparoo for the 2023 season.
In round 14 the Roos secured a 55-27 victory over Bond and in round 2 they also dominated the Bull Sharks 2-41.
Bond’s reserves are determined to turn the tables and deliver a triumphant performance over the Roos on the Grand Final stage.
A message from the leaders
In what has been an outstanding first season with the club, Bond Director of AFL and senior women’s coach Andy Lovell said he was thrilled for all the players who now had the opportunity to win a grand final.
“I’m feeling really excited and really proud of the girls, and also the club as a whole,” Lovell said.
“All season we’ve had challenges with selection between our girls on academy or those with state duties, so it was difficult to get synergy and consistency.
“There wasn’t a single time this year where we could consecutively pick the same team.
“To be able to get two teams to the grand final with that in mind is an enormous effort by everyone and I couldn’t be prouder.’’
Similarly, senior women’s captain Paris Lightfoot agrees that the season’s results are a testament to the club’s and players’ unwavering efforts.
“It’s so good that we’ve finally built the program to a stage where we’ve got the two teams into grand finals,” she said.
“I think it’s definitely been our best season so far – just personally my development and improvement this season has been incredible and that’s largely due to our new coaching staff and in particular Andy.
“The group has just soaked up all of his knowledge and training has really gone up a standard since he’s been on board.”
Who’s in, who’s out
Despite suffering severe bruising to her shoulder’s AC joint in their qualifying final two weeks ago, captain Lightfoot is determined to make a return to the team in time for the weekend’s Grand Final.
Lightfoot’s participation however is contingent on her clearance test at Friday night training.
The decision will hinge on her ability to perform crucial defender drills and handle contact.
“My recovery is going well and I’m doing everything that I can in the lead-up to this weekend,” Lightfoot said.
“Each day my shoulder is getting better so I’m hopeful I’ll be good to go.”
Despite Lightfoot’s determination, coach Lovell will be unable to select her unless she’s performing at 100 percent.
“We can’t take injured players into grand finals but if Paris can get through a full training session on Friday, then we’ll pick her to play.” Lovell said.
Contested footy remains a key focus for both the senior and reserves women and Lovell has emphasised the importance of winning battles in the midfield.
“Grand finals are won and lost at the contest,” he said. “All the girls have been working really hard on that.”
He acknowledged the Hornets similar playing style, characterised by speed and a high-running game.
“In the end it will be the team that uses the ball the most effectively that will get the edge,” he said.
Lightfoot highlighted teamwork as a key focus.
“Ensuring that we’re working together and playing our role to get the job done is an area we’ve been working on all year long,” she said.
“Really playing together, getting that link-up, and sticking to the structure that Andy’s built is key for us.”
Can’t forget the boys
Whilst the women take centre stage in their premiership pursuits, the Bull Sharks’ QFA men’s sides are gearing up for a big battle of their own.
Each side will hold the home ground advantage when The Canal hosts the second round of the qualifying finals.
After winning the minor premiership, the senior men will play Carrara, presenting their first opportunity for a Grand Final berth.
Similarly, the reserves men will battle it out for Grand Final glory when they lock horns with minor premiers the Coolangatta Blues.
Match day information
Saturday, August 26
Bond University Main Oval
11:45am men’s reserves
2:00pm men’s seniors
Sunday, August 27
Brighton Homes Arena
12:00pm women’s reserves
2:20pm women’s seniors
Supporter busses will depart from Bond or Coomera but seats are limited.
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