AFL North West: Gunnedah Bulldogs and Inverell Saints on major semi-final collision course

The game plan Gunnedah devised for the Saints would have to be torn up if the predicted rain hits Inverell for their major semi-final clash on Saturday, says Bulldogs midfielder Jake Spackman.

WAIT AND SEE: Bulldogs player-coach Andrew George has spent a long time formulating a game plan for Inverell but it may have to be scrapped.

WAIT AND SEE: Bulldogs player-coach Andrew George has spent a long time formulating a game plan for Inverell but it may have to be scrapped.

Up to 40 millimetres of rain is forecast for game day, with a maximum temperature of 16 degrees Celsius.

Gunnedah’s Saints game plan, devised over a number of weeks, fell flat in the Bulldogs’ 69-point loss to the minor premiers in a final-round home clash last Saturday, although the Dogs were undermanned.

Spackman said: “So [Gunnedah will] probably stick to the game plan.

“But if it's wet, then the game plan will change – it will be [about] getting it forward on the boot.” 

He added: “At the end of the day I think it’s gonna come to, with finals footy, who defends better and wins the midfield battle.”

Spackman is hopeful Gunnedah will have a full squad.

However, he said Gunnedah have lost Ryan Cooper (dislocated shoulder) while a question mark hangs over Sam Proudfoot (eye).

“We can’t afford more injuries,” Spackman said.

The winner of Saturday’s clash advances to the grand final, with the Dogs eyeing back-to-back premierships.

Inverell have won their past two matches against Gunnedah, after the Bulldogs beat them by 51 points in round three.

But Spackman – who finished second by a point to the Swans’ Ed George in the Gillies Medal count this year after winning AFL North Wests’ best-and-fairest player award last year – said Gunnedah would not go into the match lacking confidence.

He added: ““But it’s a shame that we’ve only had one game in the last month before finals.

“We’ve got no form going into the finals but anything can happen on the day. And if we stick together, hopefully we get the result.”

To win, Spackman said the Bulldogs had to “minimise turnovers and play smart”.

He said: “They [Inverell] like to put guys behind the footy … If we can shut down a couple of playmakers, set the game up from behind and win the midfield battle, then we'll go a long way to winning, I think.”

In the minor semi-final on Saturday, New England hosts the Kangaroos.

The winner of that match plays the loser of the Bulldogs-Saints clash, on Saturday week, for a place in the grand final.

This story Bulldogs’ wet-weather contingency plan for Saints finals clash first appeared on Namoi Valley Independent.

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