Reserves focused on challenge ahead

Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 12:14 PM by Katie de Haer

One week at a time. 

It's one of the game's favourite clichés, but the sentiment rings true for East Perth’s Reserves Coach, Aaron Ballantyne.

Ballantyne knows his group can ill afford to look too far ahead as they approach Sunday’s second semi-final clash with Subiaco. A win will secure a straight passage for his side into the WAFL Reserves Grand Final.

2020 marks 37 years since the Royals’ last Reserves premiership in 1983. East Perth have made finals four times in the last five seasons, two of those grand finals in 2016 and 2018.

After finishing the home and away season 7-0 in his first year at the helm, Ballantyne said that, although the immediate future was exciting, it's business as usual around the club.

“It’s that old cliché, but we’re taking it one week at a time,” Ballantyne said.

“We’re only looking towards this weekend.

“There’s a bit of (external) talk about the grand final, given we went through the home and away season undefeated, but for us, our attention is on Subiaco on Sunday.” 

The last time the Royals clashed with their co-tenants in round six, they secured an 18-point victory, after a tight tussle that saw scores locked at three quarter time.

“Last time we got them by three goals but we’re expecting a pretty solid Subi side to come out on Sunday. 

“They’re an elite football club, they have been for the best part of 10-15 years. We expect nothing but the best from Subi and we’ll try and match that early and see what happens from there... see how the game pans out.

“We’re expecting nothing short of Subi’s best.”

Players can qualify for Reserves finals provided they have played at least two Reserves matches during the home and away season. Following Sunday’s League win over Peel Thunder, Christian Ameduri (2 games), Nathan Eaton (4), Callum Hart (2), Shaquille McKenzie (2), Jacob Msando (2) and Jonty Turner (5) could all be available for selection.

“We’ve got five or six that played on the weekend that can come back. We’ll have conversations with those guys throughout the week and see if they want to come back and play. We’ll also need to see what the football club wants to do as we move into 2021.

“We plan on putting forward our strongest side possible on Sunday.

“Only having to play two Reserves games to qualify does make it more challenging because there will be a lot more players available for selection.

“That means that, inevitably, there will be some hard luck stories - there are every year. We understand that and we’ve spoken to the players about that already, but we’ll try to put our most competitive team out on the park and come 1.30pm Sunday, we’ll know where we’re at.”

Ballantyne said the support of East Perth’s entire playing group and supporter base for Sunday's final would be a welcome boost for the team.

“We’ll be sending our entire playing group up there,” Ballantyne said.

“It’s a good chance also for all of our supporters to sit amongst the (league) players and have a chat and talk to those guys as well.

“To steal a line off (league coach Jeremy Barnard) Barney - 'we’ve got the most loyal supporters in the competition'. 

“When they’re up and about, we hear them and we appreciate it. They do help us.”

Bouncedown is at 11.00am at Provident Financial Oval in Joondalup. Tickets can be pre-purchased online.