International battles Blue Lake in the A Grade contest

LAST CHANCE: Blue Lake’s Tristan Guess and International’s Josh Grubb will do battle for the last time this season when the sides clash in the A Grade preliminary final in Naracoorte today, with only one team earning the chance for premiership glory against Centrals in the grand final next week. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

LIMESTONE Coast soccer will travel to Naracoorte today when all grades contest the preliminary finals and vye for the second place in next week’s grand finals.

The match everyone is eager to watch will be the last of the day, when league heavyweight International battles Blue Lake in the A Grade contest.

Inter suffered its first loss since 2016 in last weekend’s qualifying final, which booked Gambier Centrals the first place in next week’s decider.

However, with a track record like Inter’s, spectators can expect the side to come out all guns blazing in today’s clash.

The two teams have had mixed results from their games this season.

Back in Round 3 of the minor season, Blue Lake put up a solid fight to lose just 2-3 against the black and blue, while the last meeting in Round 10 saw a larger margin.

Despite a solid first half which saw scores at 1-0 in Inter’s favour at the break, the minor premiers hit their straps in the second term.

The end result was a 6-0 win for Inter, but the Rangers will be eager to prevent another blowout.

They recorded a narrow 1-0 win over Apollo in last week’s elimination final and were served well around the ground.

Jacob Ellis stood tall in the backline, along with Jacob Phillips, while through the midfield the likes of Si Pler and Sam Richards excelled.

Yuki Akita had another solid game and will be out to make an impact on the scoreboard this week if he can.

Young gun Fraser Howard was absent from the side last week due to other commitments and he will be a fine addition to the squad today.

Led well by playing coach Jared Vause, along with experienced leaders Tristan Guess and Bryce Strachan, Blue Lake certainly has some talent in its ranks.

But the same is the case for Inter and despite last week’s off game, it has shown nothing but immense depth this season.

The combination of Matt Bueti, Christian Cella and Dan Bronca was slightly disconnected last week and that will be something the side will want to work on.

Ricky McRobert was a massive presence on the ground in the qualifier and despite being under an injury cloud, will likely give his all again this week.

Youngster Connor Prior was also in fine form on the weekend and if given the chance he will work hard through the midfield again.

Add into the mix the likes of Fintan Cuthbertson, Josh Grubb, plus young guns Skayper Johnson and Sar Hay Moo and Inter should have the expertise to get the job done.

However, Blue Lake should not be underestimated and will give its all as it fights for the grand final berth which has been elusive in recent years.

Preliminary finals draw

Host venue: Naracoorte.

Seniors – 2.30pm: International v Blue Lake.

Reserves – 11.15am: International v Naracoorte.

Under 17 – 9.40am: International v Blue Lake.

Under 14 – 1.05pm: Centrals v Blue Lake.

Under 12 – 8.30am: Blue Lake v International.