Speed Field Days Mallee Football League Grand Final Preview
by Jim Gordon
WALPEUP UNDERBOOL V SEA LAKE NANDALY TIGERS
MFL GRAND FINAL
Walpeup Underbool and Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers clash in the Grand Final of the Mallee Football League at Rainbow on Saturday.
The Tigers have had a great end to their season and will take a lot of confidence from their exciting win against Hopetoun in the Preliminary Final and their very good First Semi Final win over Beulah. Unfortunately, they will need a lot more than confidence, as they come up against a side that has only lost twice during the whole season and has defeated the Tigers the three times they have met. Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers also come up against a side with a prodigious amount of talent, strength and experience all over the ground and a strong desire to win a flag in that rare window of opportunity that comes up when you have put together a great side.
The Roos are bristling with talented players all over the field that have rarely all played together at the same time this season. Matt Palmer will play in the Grand Final after missing the Second Semi and Daniel Harris will play after a couple of weeks break. At long last Walpeup Underbool will have a complete list from which to select a winning side.
With three times Russ Gravestock medallist for Best and Fairest in the MFL, Col Durie is in great form and the Roos will need to nominate someone who can run with him for the whole game. The battle of the midfield will be one to watch with both teams having genuine ball winners. Durie always gathers plenty of possessions by using his experience as well as his prodigious skills to lead from the front and with Dan McEwin rucking well, the Tigers could have an advantage in the midfield. McEwan’s battle with Roo ruckman Josh Charles will be a significant contest.
Stephen Lyons has also performed well across half back against the Roos earlier in the season and is likely to match up on Wade Champion in what should be another top battle. Lyons was nominated as the best Tiger against Hopetoun last week for his very good game on Bryce Wellington.
Walpeup Underbool will also need to keep a close eye on Troy Ferrier who has scored five goals in each of his two finals games so far. Ryan Anderson has had the job on Ferrier earlier in the season and he may line up on him once again.
The Roos’ David Piasente, Luke Nathan and Sam Macdonald have been in outstanding form in the midfield for most of the season and the Tigers are going to have to try and curb their influence on the game. The only way that they will be able to do this will be to put a lot of pressure on the Roos and play a tight, disciplined man on man game as they did against the Devils. Matt Elliott has been quite successful in this approach when he has played on Piasente
Kane Munro up forward for the Roos will be an important matchup. He is a big game player and he has had a wonderful season with the class of player around him that the Roos have put together. The job of minding Munro may fall to Luke Martin or John Guthrie, both of whom are in fine form.
In earlier games this season the Tigers have endeavoured to get in early and hit the Roos hard with strong tackling and bumping causing pressure to be put on individual Roos and resulting in turnovers. This has kept the Tigers within range of the Roos, but on each occasion the Roos have been able to withstand this pressure and eventually get their free flowing style of football going to run out winners. In fact the Roos had a big win against the Tigers in their final home and away game.
Finals football is a different game and the contest should be a lot closer. The Tigers will go in as the underdogs, but this hasn’t bothered them so far and we can look forward to a great contest with the Roos coming out on top.