Lions and Sea Eagles square off in winner takes all Preliminary Final

Credit: Carmel Potter-Green

80 minutes.

That’s what it has come down to for the South Perth Lions and North Beach Sea Eagles.

Win and they’re through to the WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership Grand Final, lose and their season is over.

It’s as simple as that.

How they each team got to this position, though, is where everything differs.

The Lions, winners of their last eight games, downed the Rockingham Sharks 42-6 in their Elimination Final, while the Sea Eagles fell to a 28-18 loss to the Fremantle Roosters during last weekend’s major semi-final.

Despite their strong form, South Perth coach Hayden Fisher says that all becomes irrelevant come finals time.

“Finals footy is a completely different ballgame and the intensity lifts,” he said.

“The whole demeanour of a game changes completely.”

The Lions have won the last two meetings between the sides, including a 20-12 win in Round 15, but Fisher says he is focussed on the future.

“Regardless of results that have happened throughout the season, it doesn’t put you in a better position to win tomorrow,” he said.

“It comes down to who executes the best.”

Credit: Carmel Potter-Green

If the Lions are to reach their first Grand Final since 2016, they’re going to have to do it without captain and reigning Ken Allen medallist, Scott Jones after the Kiwi picked up a two-game suspension for a tackle made against the Sharks.

“It’s a massive loss, but our mindset is no one man makes a team, and that’s really what we’ve got to deal with,” Fisher said.

“We’ve got to make sure we manage it the best we can.”

One man’s loss is another man’s gain, however, with Jarrad Smith given the responsibility of filling Jones’ boots.

“I have plenty of faith in what Jarrad Smith brings to a team,” Fisher said.

North Beach, meanwhile, go in unchanged from the side that lost to Fremantle last week, with Josh Toole pairing Cairo Takarangi in the halves.

“We know how tough North Beach are and we’ve got to play a tough game that matches their style of footy,” Fisher said.

“When you’re playing finals footy, sometimes game plans don’t work out, so it’s about who’s the most resilient team and who can settle into their stride.

“If we can settle into our footy and do what we do best, that’s going to give us a good opportunity.”

The game kicks off at 3.30pm at Ken Allen Field, with Fremantle awaiting the winner.