With the prize of a grand final berth for all the winner’s - preliminary final day always has a real edge to it. No doubt there will be plenty of heartbreak and plenty of joy this Saturday across all four grades.
In the senior clash the Warragul Industrials will throw down the gauntlet to Longwarry. The Dusties will be out to make it back to back grand final appearances and the Crows will seek to make their first grand final since it played in the 2014 East Division grand final.
Longwarry and Warragul Industrials have met three times this season. Each time the Crows have prevailed. It won by less than a kick in both home and away games but beat the Dusties convincingly by 40 points in the Qualifying Final. This time around Warragul will be imbued with new spirit after it brought the in form Poowong’s seven game winning streak to and end last Sunday. For Longwarry centreman Russell Lehman, ruckman Nick Redley and coach and coach and forward Daniel Fry with tight defence led by Aaron Serong, Cole Cook and Ken Towt have been the keys behind their success.
For the Dusties the on-ball brigade led by Tyson Bale, Shane Brewster and Tye Holland always offer consistent performances while its half back line of Travis Odgen, Josh Peterson and Joel Morgan was terrific last week. Mind you it made heavy weather of beating the Magpies with a risk averse approach to work the ball through the Poowong defence with plenty of short precise kicks. It will need to play far more adventurously to knock over the Crows. It stands to reason that Longwarry with a comfortable final win two weeks ago over the Dusties and inadvertent home ground advantage should progress to the grand final – but Warragul will use the use the adage if you take the field you must be a chance.
Both Warragul Industrials and Ellinbank will meet again after playing each other in the Qualifying Final. Expect the Eagles to field a similar side this time around but the Dusties side is likely to have a different set up after rover Damian Mullen, forward Joel Crowther and Ayden Mills all played seniors last Sunday and probably did enough to retain their spots. Tough ruck rover Scott Lindsay is the heart beat of the Dusties side. For Ellinbank its strong forward line led by Ben Drew, James Scammell who bagged six goals last week and experience provided by Toby Wallace, Kristian Bingham & Neale Parke tips the verdict the way of the Eagles in an upset.
Neerim South was far and away the best side in the U18s during the home and away season but suffered an unexpected loss to Catani in the Second Semi Final last week. It beat its opponents today Buln Buln by nine points in round 3 and 48 points in round 12. The Lyrebirds will bank heavily on forwards Flynn O’Reilly, Eric Ceron and Marko Kulas who were all outstanding last week while Chad Hall also provided regular feed for these forward targets. Expect this game to showcase plenty of youngsters who will make their mark at senior level over the upcoming years. In Justin Lockett, Rhys George, Adam White and Cooper Clancy the Cats look to have a slightly better ruck division and should make their way to the grand final in tight contest.
The Dusties won both home and away encounters against the Magpies by 30 and 19 points respectively. It fields a very even side. Forward Luke Kinder, ruck Braydon Hefford, defender Harrison Perry along with Oliver Marek and Damien Barreto have all had a good final series. Poowong were pushed to the last seconds but held on to beat Ellinbank by 4 points last Sunday.
It too has a very even spread of players. Bailey Murphy, Alex Henshall, Ryan Knight and Zac Gray all caught the eye last week to lend good support to its regular stars Hayden Wallis and Tane Derrick. The Dusties who were the minor premiers look to have a tad more depth.
SENIORS – LONGWARRY v Warragul Industrials
RESERVES – Warragul Industrials v ELLINBANK
U/18s – NEERIM SOUTH v Buln Buln
U16s – WARRAGUL INDUSTRIALS v Poowong
Last Modified on 07/09/2018 11:47