By Rafe Griffin – NPL Correspondent
The 2015 NPL Queensland Senior Mens’ draw has been released featuring twelve clubs competing for the title over 22 home-and-away rounds. As per the previous two seasons, a four team finals series will take place over two weekends.
For the third consecutive year, Brisbane Strikers will meet Redlands in the opening round with the now traditional ‘derby’ between FNQ Heat and the Northern Fury, sure to ignite a tremendous atmosphere at Barlow Park in Cairns.
Rounding out the opening set of fixtures, Western Pride host SWQ Thunder; both sides with new coaches looking for their inaugural NPL win. Brisbane City will travel up the Bruce Highway to take on the new-look Sunshine Coast Fire while Wolter Park features Moreton Bay against Olympic, the corresponding match in 2014 resulting in a thrilling four-all draw between the sides. Due to their final match of the National Youth League being played on the opening weekend, the fixture between Brisbane Roar Youth and 2014 Champions, Palm Beach, has been deferred to a date yet to be announced.
There will be five rounds prior to the Easter break and one of the most appealing matches will be the 2014 Grand Final re-match when Palm Beach hosts Olympic at the Mallawa Complex.
Other features of the draw are:
- A Perry Park double header in round six with the Roar hosting the FNQ Heat followed by the Strikers and Moreton Bay.
- Anzac Day features four scheduled matches.
- Round 17 sees all matches being wrapped up on the Saturday night with five matches played that day in addition to Redlands and Western Pride playing on the Friday night.
- After a glut of catch-up matches late in the 2014 season, catch-up weekends have again been included into the draw.
The full draw can be viewed here: http://www.foxsportspulse.com/comp_info.cgi?a=ROUND&round=-1&client=1-9385-0-327446-0&pool=1
Below is an analysis of how each club has fared:
- Five of their eleven home games will be played on Friday nights at the re-named Corporate Travel Management Stadium.
- Three consecutive home matches in rounds 2, 3 and 4 against the Brisbane Strikers, Brisbane Roar Youth and FNQ Heat respectively.
- A potentially tough run of matches early on in the competition meeting four of the top five 2014 sides within the first six rounds (Strikers, Heat, Moreton Bay and Olympic)
- Make their long-distance trips on Anzac Day in round five to Northern Fury and in round 15 to FNQ Heat.
- Although they will play at Perry Park in round four against the Brisbane Strikers, their first official home match won’t be until round five against Western Pride
- Three consecutive home matches in rounds 13, 14 and 15 against SWQ Thunder, Brisbane City and Brisbane Strikers
- Fly to Northern Fury in round nine and FNQ Heat in round 17.
- After playing on Sunday afternoons in 2014, the club reverts back to mainly Saturday night matches in 2015.
- Two home matches in a row in rounds three and four and again in rounds 10 and 11.
- Supporters will need to wait for the traditional rivalry match against the Sunshine Coast Fire, as those matches won’t take place until the final week of each round. This will also mark incoming coach Kevin A’hearne-Evans first encounter against his former club.
- Away trips to FNQ Heat in round five and Northern Fury in round 19.
- Retain their Saturday night timeslot of 7:30pm for home matches.
- Have their turn of hosting the northern derby against Northern Fury in the opening round.
- Unlike 2014 where there were runs of consecutive weekends travelling to south-east Queensland, the balance of home and away matches is a lot more even in 2015.
- Have a mixture of Saturday and Sunday night matches at home.
- The ‘Piddock Derby’ takes place in round 10 when incoming Jets coach Adam Piddock meets Palm Beach with brother Grae Piddock at the helm.
- Long distance trips in round eight to the Fury and eleven to the Heat.
- Double-headers with their Brisbane Premier League sister club, Albany Creek in rounds three, ten, thirteen and nineteen.
- After playing in the Sunday afternoon timeslot in 2014, in the main their home matches have reverted back to Saturday nights.
- Will travel to Cairns in round one for the traditional derby against the FNQ Heat before hosting the return leg on 30 May.
- Their first four matches will be on the road, travelling to Cairns, Western Pride, Palm Beach and Redlands. Three matches in a row at home will follow that.
- The Fury have the most uneven draw in terms of home and away scheduling as they will then have five matches in a row at home between rounds 11 and 15.
- Opening two matches away from home
- Eight Sunday afternoon/night, two Friday night and one Saturday night home matches.
- Grand Final re-match in round two away to the Palm Beach Sharks.
- Back-to-back road trips in round 20 to Cairns and round 21 to Townsville.
- Will not open their campaign until round two in which they host their 2014 Grand Final opponent, Olympic. Their following match will also be at home against Northern Fury
- A run of three matches away from the Mallawa in rounds six through eight against Sunshine Coast, SWQ Thunder and Brisbane City.
- Both their long distance matches happen in the second half of the season, to Northern Fury in round 14 and FNQ Heat in the final round.
- It’s brother versus brother in the technical zones in rounds 10 and 21 when the Sharks and Moreton Bay meet.
- Have probably the toughest opening draw; meeting four of the top five from 2014 in their opening five matches prior to the Easter break (Strikers, Moreton Bay, Olympic and Palm Beach).
- Will play the majority of their home matches on a Friday night.
- Travel away to FNQ Heat in round 10 and Northern Fury in round 15.
South-West Queensland Thunder
- Back-to-back matches at Clive Berghofer Stadium in rounds seven and eight, eleven and twelve, sixteen and seventeen and twenty and twenty-one.
- Their long travel trips are completed early, in round three to FNQ Heat and round six to Townsville.
Sunshine Coast Fire
- Will continue to play home matches in their traditional Sunday afternoon timeslot.
- Opening two matches against Brisbane City and FNQ Heat at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
- Four of their opening six matches are against four of the top five clubs from 2014 (FNQ Heat, Moreton Bay, Olympic and Palm Beach).
- First match against traditional rivals Brisbane Strikers is in round 11, in the middle of four matches away from home.
- Opening two matches are at home against the Thunder and the Fury.
- Round four sees incoming coach, Karl Dodd meet Palm Beach. Dodd was a player in the Sharks 2014 NPL Championship-winning side.
- Long-distance trips in rounds seven (FNQ Heat) and thirteen (Northern Fury)