AFL: They don't call it the premiership quarter for nothing and Queanbeyan Tigers player-coach Kade Klemke said 20 minutes will be all it takes to win or lose the AFL Canberra premiership as they take on Belconnen in the grand final this Saturday, 2.30pm at Manuka Oval.
In all three matches this season, resulting in three wins for the undefeated Magpies, the Tigers' undoing can be pinpointed to just one quarter and the coach will be looking to replicate a strong start similar to that of their 21-point preliminary final win over the Hawks last Saturday.
The Tigers piled on five majors in the first term, leading by 24 points at quarter-time and extending that lead to just over six goals at the main break.
Tuggeranong came back after the main break, but a six-goal haul from goal sneak Kane Godde and unsung hero Alex Page and two crucial majors in the third from Mark 'Merv' Armstrong held the Hawks off to see the Tigers into the grand final with a 14.11 (95) to 11.8 (74) win.
"Every coach wants to start well, that's what set the tone and got us the win [against Tuggeranong]," Klemke said.
"After halftime they were coming back at us, but I knew we had it thanks to our first half.
"Bill Reid had a good quarter, Pagey was good with three goals in a quarter, those that normally go unnoticed did a great job. Scott Lancaster played a great tagging role on Dave Smith and he barely touched the ball, Dean Ross was good as well as the usual suspects."
Queanbeyan are yet to get a win over the Magpies, but Klemke said he is looking to his team to give it everything they have and see who steps up on the big stage.
"We've got to mentally switch on, there's no game after this, so we have to leave nothing in the tank after this," he said.
"If we're going to beat them we're going to have to match them in all areas. It'll come down to the younger guys, who's going to stand up in the big time.
"Midfield is where it will be won and lost, so Jack O'Halloran and Dean Ross will have to step up and we'll have to watch [Belconnen's] dangerous players, Lex and James Bennett and Isaac Taylor.
"Alec McCormick has been a big improver this year- he's been playing on NEAFL forwards and he hasn't been beaten. He and O'Halloran played on [Magpies] Chris York who's kicked 80 goals for the year and they've kept him to four goals in three games. O'Halloran is another guy who's really improved, he's got great speed and strength and always has a crack."
It may be the last game for Armstrong who has filled in during the club's time of need after a five-year retirement, Klemke said a premiership would be a fitting send off for the veteran.
"'Merv' coming and playing has been a massive part of the year and he's really helped us out," he said.
"[On Saturday] I think that was the best I've seen him move all year. He'll be a handy experienced head for us [in the grand final] and it would be great to get the win for his last game.
"But a footy club is more than just a team, it's a community. The community really get behind us, so it'll be a win for them."
Playing on Manuka Oval previously this year, winning hard matches leading up to the big day and having a full list to chose from has Klemke confident the Tigers can bring the flag back to Queanbeyan again.
"We've been excited since the first week of finals, we have a really positive feel around the club and I think we can go all the way," he said.