Thursday, September 12, 2013

SFL grand final preview

SFL Season 2013 – Grand Final Preview
Senior Grand Final: New Norfolk v Claremont at KGV Saturday 2.30pm

THE Claremont Magpies will be hoping to finish season 2013 the same way they started - with a win over New Norfolk. They have been unable to beat the Eagles in subsequent encounters but there is no doubt players in both sides will be entering the ground with hairs standing up on the back of their neck for this Saturday's grand final.

The Magpies have excited the competition in the 2013 season with fantastic wins and have executed the game plans well under coach Kim Excell. You would expect another disciplined performance against the premiership favourites at KGV Oval. Nathan Brown is the prime mover for Claremont and will need to be well held along with big forward Sean Salter who stood up in key moments in the preliminary final against Kingborough. Brown has had a strange lead-up to grand final day after polling the most votes in the William Leitch Medal count for the best and fairest player in the competition to finish five votes clear, but was deemed ineligible to win due to suspension for striking in Round 18 against Lindisfarne.

In an interesting twist before the big encounter, the William Leitch Medal was awarded to Nathan Ross of New Norfolk on 27 votes as the next highest vote-getter. The crowd at the game on Saturday should look forward to a mouth-watering contest to see these two great players step out for their clubs and possibly their individual games hold the key to their side’s fates and either would be an apt Gorringe-Martyn Medallist for the best player on the ground in the SFL grand final.

New Norfolk has an outstanding record this season, winning all but their first game and they should enter a close fought encounter as favourites. One of New Norfolk’s less recognised players Rohan Heron will be a key on grand final day as he is sure to have a big task as the general of the Eagles backline. The Eagles younger players have been sharing the load to ensure that the likes of Roger Belcher and 2012 William Leitch medallist and leading goal kicker Michael Thompson don’t have to always be the match winners.

This should be a close encounter for most of the day but the expectation is that the reigning premiers may prove a little too strong towards the end of the game. The greatest battle may be between the coaches – New Norfolk's Jon Murray has managed his players very well throughout the season, but has a list that is the envy of most coaches and will need to keep the structure of some outstanding individuals playing in unison and not focussed on their own performances. In the other box, the highly experienced and respected Kim Excell knows KGV as well as anyone and will have every players role planned from first bounce to final siren and no one loves to be a chance in the game when the “whips are cracking” more than the Claremont coach.

The Eagles are probably the side in slightly better condition with a two-week break during the finals series and the expectation is that they will set themselves for a crack at back to back flags come final-siren time on Saturday, but don’t be surprised if there is some real desperation and hardness in the Magpie team particularly if the game is still up for grabs late in the last quarter on Saturday. Don’t miss what should be one of the great SFL grand finals of the last few years.

U18s Colts grand final, 9.30am – Sorell v Kingborough
Reserves grand final, noon – Kingborough v New Norfolk

Ben Harrison
Football and Commercial Operations Management
 Southern Football League

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