Must-win milestone match for Tigers defender
Mt Barker will be without star ball winner Corey Byrne for Sunday’s cut-throat first semifinal against Railways, but they will regain up to six players as they look to keep their premiership hopes alive at Centennial Stadium.
The Bulls finished third on the ladder but because of the state of Sounness Park, have moved the final to Centennial Stadium in Albany.
Their hopes of progressing to a preliminary final have received a boost, with some key players set to return. Full forward Daniel Parker, who made a mid-season move to join East Fremantle in the WAFL, appears certain to play in Bulls colours given the Sharks reserves are not playing in the finals.
Injured pair Tyron Miller and Ben Ireland are also set to be included this week, along with Luke Hammond and Doug Roberts, while Brenton Edwards is also a possibility to face the Tigers.
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Those inclusions will help offset the loss of Byrne, who is believed to be on a fishing trip in the north of the State.
Last week the Tigers won a muddy contest by 28 points, but the previous two encounters this season have gone to the Bulls.
“I’d expect we will make four or five changes,” Thompson said.
“We’d like to think if we can play a good enough style (we can) win the game on Sunday and we are getting a fair bit of quality back for finals.
“The feeling inside our four walls is that sides don’t want to come up against us in finals.”
The Tigers’ hopes of winning the elimination final have been dealt a blow, with gun midfielder Logan Stubber ruled out with a broken collarbone and spearhead Coen Marwick also set to miss with a hamstring injury.
The pair were injured in the Tigers’ final-round win last Saturday and will likely be replaced by Noah Moore and Jordyn Pietrala.
Tigers player-coach Craig Frost expected a different challenge against the Bulls in better conditions given their sharp foot skills.
The match will have extra importance for the Tigers, with key defender Kris Cramer running out in his 150th league game against the Bulls. Cramer spent the entire 2016 season on the sidelines after a car crash but has returned to play in all bar one of the Tigers’ games so far this season.
The 27-year-old said it felt good to have finally reached the major milestone.
“Considering I couldn’t run last year, I thought I might not get there,” Cramer said.
“It’s definitely been a big push to get to this, and had I been any further away, I doubt I would have got back.
“The highlight of the whole career after playing a lot of twos at the start was to play in two senior flags.”
GSFL First Semifinal
Sunday at Centennial Stadium
League, 2.30pm - Mt Barker v Railways
Reserves, 12.30pm - Railways v Mt Barker
Colts, 10.45am - Railways v North Albany
Sixteens, 9.15am - Railways v Denmark-Walpole
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