Division 3 Grand Final – Saturday 12th September
Black Rock vs Mount Waverley
Heatherton Recreation Reserve, Ross Street, Heatherton - 2:30pm
88.3 Southern FM Match of the Day Broadcast
Listen to Hammers, Johnny Tak and the team call the big game live on 88.3 Southern FM or via sfnllive.com.au.
Broadcast time 2:00pm to 5:30pm
Division 3 Grand Final Preview
With Andrew Paloczi
Grand Final day promises to be a thrilling contest between Black Rock and Mount Waverley.
Black Rock occupied top spot for all but two rounds of the home and away season and deserved its status as minor premier, but Mount Waverley maintained a good ladder position throughout, never too far adrift. The Mountain Lions spent most of the season in the top four and pounced on second spot in Round 18.
Mount Waverley has been unable to defeat the Jets this season, but came close in Round 15. On that day, the Mountain Lions only kicked goals in the second quarter, yet lost by just a point. The Jets took their opportunities with three last quarter goals, whilst the Mountain Lions squandered theirs with six behinds in that period.
Previously, the sides met in Round 5 with the Jets handling the challenge of a visit to Mayfield Park, to get home by 10 points and maintain an undefeated record that did not end until a Round 9 loss to Ashwood.
The Jets have based their season on a wide range of contributors, and have adjusted well to the disappointment of losing Tom Dewar to a knee injury that ended his season after he had played just eight games. Dewar had already booted 39 goals.
Black Rock coach, John Burke notes that players had been challenged in the previous couple of seasons to share the goal-scoring load and have responded well. Burke explains that they have managed to score effectively as a team without having another player featuring in the league’s top goal kickers.
The challenge for Mount Waverley is to bounce back from a comprehensive seven-goal loss when the sides met in week two of the finals. One thing that the Mountain Lions need to do is contain Adrian Lane. He led the way for Black Rock in a best on ground display in the Semi Final clash between these teams, and kicked three majors.
Lane was also prominent in the sides’ Round 15 clash, being named the Jets’ second best player and booting one of his team’s five goals.
Burke reflects on how far the Jets have come in the past three years, after battling financial instability and a loss of respect from inside and outside the club.
He explains that three years ago he presented the club with a plan to help it rebuild, and this involved a focus on its culture. More specifically this was about “respect, attitude, commitment and effort”, Burke says.
In this time, he points out that the club has gone from having 25 players in the first round of the 2013 season to having around 90 footballers across three sides.
He is excited that the club will be participating in both the Reserves and Senior Grand Finals.
Burke has vast finals experience from Cheltenham and is confident that the Jets will be well prepared for the challenge against the Mountain Lions.
He will keep everything normal in the lead up to the match, training on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Thursday will feature what has now become a customary dinner, which has helped the team bond.
Burke feels the Jets have a good balance of young and experienced players and says the young players have been a pleasure to coach. But he makes it clear that the senior players and the leadership group drive the club.
Cory Durie, Jay Williams and Kelly Spratt form the leadership group. “Those three boys have got a lot of experience and they are worthy leaders of our football club,” Burke says.
He also praises backman, Andrew Ferguson, who missed out on a spot in Black Rock’s Elimination Final team last year. “He’s been secretary, treasurer, you name it, he does it all, and he’s our media manager.” He makes it clear that if the Jets win the ultimate prize on Saturday, plenty of credit should go to Ferguson.
Burke emphasises that the Jets will respect the opposition and enjoy the day, and that a win will hopefully result from their efforts. He says, “It’s been a three year journey. If we win a premiership at the end of it that’s a bonus, but it’s not the important thing.”
He will be proud of the players, no matter what, and is confident it will be a high quality game.
Mount Waverley playing coach, Jarrod Wilkin has the ability to inspire his team with his courage, and is sure to be crucial in the backline. He has the versatility to contribute around the ground for the Mountain Lions.
Wilkin explains the work that has gone into the Mountain Lions reaching the Grand Final again, after losing a number of players at the end of 2014. “It was looking pretty grim, but we managed to get mates of mates to come down and build a competitive side. It took us about three or four rounds to gel together,” Wilkin says.
He sees the result of the Grand Final as hinging on “who can sustain the most pressure”, and considers this to be an area that the Mountain Lions pride themselves on.
Like Black Rock, Mount Waverley is not overly reliant on any individual to score its goals. Big forward, Luke Galle has booted 68 majors for the season and sits second on the division’s goal kicking list. He was held goalless in the Preliminary Final and the Mountain Lions were still able to manage 12 goals for the day.
Wilkin mentions that Galle came to the club from Foster where he was playing at centre half back. This highlights Galle’s ability to contribute in different positions, and he has the fitness to cover plenty of ground.
Another player Wilkin speaks of is Leigh McInnes who he describes as a “strong onballer with silky foot skills”. However, the coach says that it is McInnes’ tackling that really makes him stand out.
The loss of Drew Macrae to injury last time Mount Waverley played Black Rock was a big blow for the Mountain Lions. He is adaptable and can contribute in the ruck and around the ground. But, if Macrae is unable to play in the Grand Final, Ben Beecroft has the experience to do plenty of work in the ruck. He is always competitive and ensures that his side’s midfielders are in with a good chance to win enough of the footy.
Chris Jeffries reads the play well and has the knack of kicking important goals for the Mountain Lions. Chris Filer showed some zip at times in the Preliminary Final and may be dangerous.
Cliff Aikman will be a valuable addition for Mount Waverley if he is able to return to the side, but has been unable to play since an injury sustained in the first week of finals action.
It will be a terrific match from the first bounce and it is unlikely that the winner will be certain until well into the contest. The Jets have had a little edge in consistency throughout the season and showed what they are capable of in a ruthless Semi Final display against Mount Waverley. But the Mountain Lions will be far more competitive this time.
Expect Black Rock to claim a narrow win.
The two Grand Final Captains Cory Durie (Black Rock) and Rich Mathers (Mount Waverley) get a feel for the silverware.