Sienna McMullen returns to club duties after representative honours with Queensland. Pictures: AFL Photos
by Holly Slattery
The Bull Sharks will be bolstered by the return of a host of QAFLW representative players for Saturday's grudge match against UQ at The Canal at 2pm.
Representing the state has been a well-deserved honour for seven of Bond’s star players but the focus now shifts to UQ who have worn a target on their backs since defeating the Bull Sharks in the 2021 seniors grand final.
The women came close to squaring the ledger in round 2 with the first grand final re-match between the varsity arch rivals ending in a draw.
Jasmyn Smith, Imogen Evans, Caitlin Thorne, Sienna McMullen, Josie McCabe and sisters Laquoyia and Litonya Cockatoo-Motlap are all back on deck and with a full-strength side at his disposal head coach Luke Mansbridge is quietly confident the Bull Sharks can get the job done on Sunday.
“UQ are always a big challenge for us,” Mansbridge said.
“Obviously they beat us in the granny last year and we drew with them in round 2, so we always seem to have close games.
“That being said, I believe we’re in a good position to capitalise on our performance now and hopefully get the win.
“The last few weeks we’ve been impacted by state representation but this week they’re all back.
“We’re pretty confident moving forward because we’ve got our full list available, and I think we’ll see some improvement in the way we go about our day-to-day capacity as well as our training and performance.
“The team is looking good.”
Mansbridge has put his squad through an intense five-week block of training which included plenty of gameplay and strategic education which he believes has the side primed to produce its most complete performance in what is clearly the biggest game of the season so far.
“The girls seem to be understanding how each other play now so I’m hoping that translates on the field,” he said.
“We’ve got a better understanding of the players who were new at the start of the year and our training has been solid, so I’m expecting a better performance than in round 2 which was very early on.
“We need to be a bit tougher and a bit stronger around the footy and that will help us utilise the other skills we’ve got around moving the ball quickly, as well as our speed and endurance and our youth.
“Overall, I think we’re in a really good position to capitalise on a fair bit of the work we’ve done so far.
“It’s up to the girls now to play that hard, tough contested footy.”
The women’s reserves are also facing UQ and will be hoping history doesn’t repeat after their round 2 clash also ended in a draw.
The men’s teams have a bye as the seniors recover from a hard-fought victory over Ballina last Saturday.