It is set to be a big weekend for Touch Football in South Australia with the TFSA League finals taking place across Friday and Sunday. Sunday’s Grand Finals will be hosted by the Northern Vipers for the first time, at Campbelltown Oval. The Vipers will be hoping their Men’s and Women’s teams display big performances in Friday night’s semi-finals, the Grand Final hosts being the only franchise without a team straight through to a decider.
The Men are up against the Central Scorpions in what is set to be a high intensity contest at 7.25pm. Last Friday the Scorpions matched what the Vipers were able to achieve in round seven in beating the previously seemingly invincible Stingrays. After it was 3-3 at half-time, the Stingrays once impenetrable defence was blown away early in the second half, Scott Gear scoring three tries as the Scorpions dominated through better ball movement, at one stage leading by four touchdowns, before winning 9-7. Ahead of the semi-final the Vipers and the Scorpions have had three tight, low scoring tussles so far this year, epitomised by the round five battle where the only try was scored in the first half, and it is likely defence will again be dominant on friday. The Scorpions were super impressive in their win against the Stingrays, Mitch O’Hara and Mitch Wilson developing into vital middle players. The Vipers have their own superstar players in Henry Fairfield and Alex Lim, but in a game set to be a low scoring arm wrestle, the Scorpions have just enough poise and polish that should see them over the line.
Turning to the Grand Final and it is clear that the Stingrays are vulnerable heading to the decider. The team became frustrated and ill-disciplined when unable to penetrate the Vipers line defence in round seven and were outplayed though the middle of the field by the Scorpions last week. Tim Glazebrook is still the key to the Stingrays success and shutting down his influence in setting up the Stingrays line attack, as the Vipers were able to do, will be pivotal in causing an upset. With the team that is playing the best touch at the right end of the season, the Scorpions have the ability to win both of the weekends matches and take out the premiership.
The Scorpions Women’s team will be favourites against whoever they meet in the middle game on Sunday. The Vipers have overcome a torrid start to the year led by an outstanding second half of the season by Kelly Rowe, to head into the finals with momentum. A 7-5 win over their semi-final opponents the South West Wolves was last week’s final pool game and will see them favourites against a Wolves team that has only won one of its past three. The Vipers should be able to back up with another performance good enough to see them through to the decider.
Knowing the Wolves loss made safe their position as minor premiers may have had an impact on the lackluster start the Scorpions had in their final round game against the Stingrays. A number of fundamental errors allowed the Rays to dominate field position and lead after 10 minutes. The Scorpions did enough to even up the ledger, but a determined Stingrays would not go away, only a run of three scores in the middle of the second half being enough for the Scorps to enter the decider as winners.
With key Scorpions players under an injury cloud, they will look again to the dominant Steph O’Hara to lead the attack on Sunday. Despite the setbacks the Scorpions have been the dominant team all season and should be too good for whoever they face in the decider.
The Scorpions Mixed team are also in contention, but first they will have to overcome the Stingrays in the semi-final on Friday. They stamped their authority over this team on Friday, with a strong 11-7 victory. Blitzing the Stingrays early to 4-0, the Stingrays then scored three of their own either side of half-time to trail by just one. In a see-sawing second half the Scorpions led by three, before having their margin again cut to one as Rick Wilkinson looked like leading his team to the win. However, the Scorpions found enough to win and take the edge into this week’s game. For a team that had not won a Mixed match for two years it has been a momentous season for the Stingrays. Introducing a number of players to TFSA League for the first time, they have been competitive against every opposition. They got within one of the Scorpions the first time they met, but it is unlikely they will be able to force an upset in the semi-final. The youthful Scorpions led by a standout season from Toby Gabrisch should have too much speed, discipline, and raw talent for the Stingrays. Whichever team wins will have the South West Wolves waiting for them. The Wolves warmed up for the Grand Final with an 8-5 victory over the Vipers. The decider should place the speed of the Scorpions against the experience of a Wolves team with a number of former state representatives. After the Wolves dominated early portions of the year, The Scorpions won in these teams last encounter in Round 7. While at times their defence can be suspect, the Scorpions have shown they have the ability to score enough touchdowns to win, and should make it a clean sweep of premierships for the team in orange.
For full fixtures and results of TFSA league including top tryscorers, Semi Finals and Grand Final fixtures click here.