THE NEAFL cross-conference grand final would be set for the scrapheap if Queanbeyan Tigers players had their say on the matter following last weekend’s lacklustre showpiece against the Brisbane Lions at Manuka Oval.
Just six days after the Tigers downed the Sydney Swans in the NEAFL Eastern Conference decider, Queanbeyan produced perhaps its worst performance of the season, going down to the Lions by 69 points.
While the Tigers were far from at their best, Brisbane did not even bother to bring a full-strength side down to Canberra for the match leaving it as a decidedly anti-climactic end to the years.
The loss also took some of the gloss off Queanbeyan’s otherwise successful season. Owing to the short turnaround between the two finals, the side was left unable to fully celebrate its Eastern Conference win before suffering the disappointment of last weekend’s result.
Following the match, Tigers defender Josh Bryce voiced his support for ditching the cross-conference showdown saying it was too difficult to ask players to back up for two grand finals in consecutive weeks.
“Obviously it’s up to the NEAFL what they do next year but if it was up to me I’d scrap it,” Bryce told The Queanbeyan Age. “When someone wins a grand final they want to be able to celebrate it. To ask them to back up again the next weekend doesn’t seem right to me. “
It was a weird feeling out there [on Saturday] and I certainly didn’t acclimatise to it. You could tell before the game even that the mood wasn’t right, everyone was just joking around and no one had their heads switched on really.”
Bryce suggested a pre-season exhibition game played the following year would be a better forum for the NEAFL’s future conference champions to face off.
Despite trailing by just eight points at the first change, the Tigers were never really in last weekend’s contest with the Lions opening up a match-winning 32-point lead by half-time.
After kicking 10 goals between them against the Swans, Queanbeyan’s key forwards Daniel Campbell and James Kavanagh had minimal impact on the match while gun midfielder Kaine Stevens was effectively contained.
“It’s just disappointing end to the season considering we played terrible footy compared to what we produced during the year,” Bryce said. “The fact is if everyone had come to play and was switched on we could have given it a shake and I believe it was a game we could have won if we’d put our hearts into it.”