A LOSS to your grand final opponents two weeks out from the decider is no one’s idea of an ideal preparation for the biggest game of the year.
But Queanbeyan Tigers under-18s coach Pete Jensen says his side’s major semi-final defeat to Ainslie a fortnight ago could turn out to have been a cloud with a silver lining.
This weekend will see the Tigers square off against Ainslie once again in Sunday’s AFL Canberra Rising Stars grand final at Kippax Oval.
Queanbeyan earned a rematch with their semi-final conquerors after producing a remarkable back-from-the-dead performance against the Belconnen Magpies in last weekend’s elimination final.
After trailing by as many as 33-points late in the third quarter, the Tigers surged back into the contest in the final term.
Holding the Magpies scoreless, Queanbeyan kicked the only four goals of the fourth quarter to stun Belconnen 8.10 (58) to 8.5 (53).
Meanwhile, Ainslie were sitting out the weekend having secured direct passage through to the grand final thanks to the side’s semi-final win over the Tigers.
And Jensen said that saloon ride into the decider could prove a double-edged sword for the Tricolours.
“You could come in fresh from the week off but it could go the other way where you’re a bit dusty and it takes you a while to get going,” Jensen said.
“I’d much rather go in the way we’ve got in. We’ll be able to take plenty out of that Belconnen game and a win like that can really lift a side.
“The past couple of years we’ve had an ordinary run into the finals with a lot of byes and games that weren’t competitive and all of a sudden you lose momentum at the most important part of the season.”
Queanbeyan is well aware of the importance of good finals preparation after the disastrous end to the side’s 2012 campaign.
After going the entire year undefeated, back-to-back finals losses saw the Tigers bundled out of title contention. Jensen attributed that poor showing to Queanbeyan’s almost uncontested run through the regular season.