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Footy fever

IT'S finals time.

Time for the Panthers to put their recent form behind them and show their city rivals exactly what they are capable of.

After a flying start to the Challenge Cup, which pushed Panthers into the top two, they slid down the ladder, greased by indifferent form.

While admitting they had missed out on a great chance to finish in the top three after a blistering start to 2009, Panthers' coach Layton Campbell was confident his side would feature strongly in the finals series.

Campbell said he feels sorry for anybody who takes his side lightly in the finals.

“Our guys have shown what they are capable of.

“We know what has gone wrong over the past few weeks, I don't want to continue going down that path, we have worked hard on fixing it.

“No-one will remember the game leading up to the weekend if we win in the semi on Saturday night.”

Panthers play CQ Norths Chargers in the A-grade Challenge Cup semi-final on an afternoon chock full of league action including the Comets v Norths Queensland Cup match.

The Panthers' Den won't be a welcoming place for the Rockhampton based outfit.

They will get a frosty reception from close to a thousand roaring, one-eyed Panthers fans and the icy night air.

“They (Chargers) aren't real happy about having to play their semi in Biloela,” Campbell said.

“But that was part of the agreement we struck with the CQ League last year when we planned to host the Comets match.

“Our boys are really excited. They get to play in the finals of the extended league in front of their home crowd.”

Panthers' last clashed with Chargers three weeks ago and after letting the opposition race away to a 26-point lead in the opening 20 minutes they fought back to finish 30-22.

“I am expecting them to come out firing early again, to try to silence the crowd, but we will be ready for them.”

Panthers' will miss the experience of front-rower Steve Boothby who is out of the clash after injuring his neck last week and suffering concussion.

However, they add some starch to their pack with Josh Adornato and Gus David coming back.

“Josh has been outstanding all year and we rested him last week, to try to help him recover from a shoulder complaint,” Campbell said.

“Gus will give us some sting in defence and he loves to hit the ball up hard.”

The English Fire Joe Brown returns on the wing from a hamstring injury and with Lynton Allen moving back to fullback and Casey Rogers shuffling into the centres - the Panthers backline will be at it potent best.

Campbell said he was looking for big games from lock Daniel Martin, interchange hooker Tyler Wright and forward Jason Scott.

“Since moving DM into lock, he has been great for us. As a ball playing forward he adds another dimension to our attack. If he can keep his composure and play to his ability he will create some headaches for the Chargers defence.

“Tyler Wright has developed into a really good hooker and with Raife Gill slotting back into the hooking role we can interchange the two and ensure they are both fresh.

“Jason Scott has been our best forward in recent weeks,” he said

Match times

2.30pm Queensland Cup

CQ Comets v North Devils

4pm Reserve Grade

Panthers v Rocky Brothers

5.30pm Under-20s

Fitzroys v Wallabies/Valleys

7.00pm A-grade

CQU Norths v Panthers


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