Lions breathing finals confidence

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Royals' Cam Allison looks for options as teammate Andrew Ruck holds out Railways' Kenton Gibbs in their most recent encounter.
Camera IconRoyals' Cam Allison looks for options as teammate Andrew Ruck holds out Railways' Kenton Gibbs in their most recent encounter. Credit: Laurie Benson

Royals coach Andrew Ruck believes his side has the firepower to win Saturday’s massive second semifinal showdown against tense rivals Railways at Centennial Stadium as the Lions chase a grand final berth.

The Lions have won their past 12 games, losing only to the Tigers way back in round three of the normal season, and they are likely to be strengthened by the return of skipper Rhys Jones and midfielder Tom Maslen.

Jones is recovering from an ankle injury, while Maslen was unavailable last week, and that pair could be joined by marking target Trent Nesbitt in the Lions side that runs out.

Nesbitt suffered a broken cheekbone and is trying to prove his fitness for the big final.

Lions coach Andrew Ruck, who many are expecting to play an on-field part in his team’s finals campaign, confirmed there would be changes to their side for the final.

“Anything can happen so we’ll see who gets through (last night) and who is available,” he said.

“I’m hoping I don’t need to play.

“I’d prefer not to, but I’m there if one of the talls goes down.

“We’re nervous. Does the weather equalise things? Probably but it’s on our home deck.

“We haven’t lost there this year and we are confident we have got a good side in.

“Even the last game, we were sort of even at three-quarter-time and got home. We have lots of flexibility but we know their top 10 are as good as any and we have to limit a few of their influences.”

With Taylor and Nathan Powell and Stephen Beal, Ruck is unlikely to take to the field this week, while the points cap will leave exciting forward Brody Ogle in the reserves.

The Tigers have a few injury concerns of their own, but coach Troy Leo said they were up for the fight come bouncedown. “We are confident we’ll get a couple back,” he said.

“A couple played well in the reserves and are pushing for spots.

“They are the side to beat, and we get first crack at them in the finals, so we’ll be up and about.

“They have won 12-13 in a row, but we go in confident knowing we can match them if we play at our best, win contested footy and see what happens.”

Leo said Ethan Knee (hamstring) and Michael Parker were likely to return, but doubts surround key forward Zak Hortin and Ryan Harper.

Tom Palfrey is a chance to be brought up from reserves, while Liam Park, Jayden Scott and Trent Bradshaw are in the mix.

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