By Jason Barbin
Saturday marks Preliminary Final day in Division 2, as Keysborough will take on Murrumbeena at Clayton’s Meade Reserve in what will be a highly anticipated clash.
Round 4 –
Keysborough 13.8 (86) def Murrumbeena 9.10 (64) at Keysborough Reserve
Round 15 –
Murrumbeena 12.10 (82) def Keysborough 8.14 (62) at Murrumbeena Park
It doesn’t get much better than this, two teams fighting it out with their seasons on the line with the winner moving on to the Grand Final and the loser going home.
This isn’t the first time these two sides will be going head-to-head in the finals however, after the pair clashed in the 2015 Qualifying Final.
Murrumbeena was the winner of that affair, the first of two straight losses for Keysborough went sent it tumbling out of the finals in its debut season in the SFNL.
The Burra will no doubt be looking to reverse the result from two years ago, but they will once again have their work cut out for them.
Before last week’s Semi Final loss against Chelsea Heights, Keysborough had been winners of five of its last six outings, with the sole exception being a match against Skye that was called off due to a major injury.
Keysborough has a number of top line players that will feature on Saturday, beginning with the likes of Tim Werner and Chris Bryan, two of the club’s best goal kickers, who have combined for 93 goals on the year.
The pair are joined by the likes of Geoff Humphreys, Bryce Sutton and Matt Werner as the most influential players on the ground, while Riet Pal and Cory Hargreaves are enjoying strong seasons.
Former captain Ryan Goodes has missed both finals so far with a facial injury, but if he returns his experience in the midfield will play a big role.
While the Burra are very much a formidable side, their opponents are the in-form team of the competition, having won their last eight matches, a streak that began in round 15.
Not known as a high scoring side, Murrumbeena has been staunch defensively throughout the season, but it does feature a number of dangerous forwards.
Alaster Bradley heads that list after an excellent finals series to date, booting seven goals including five in a match winning performance against Caulfield in the semis.
While Bradley hasn’t excelled against Keysborough this season, with just one goal from two games, he is one to keep an eye on.
Eduardo Espinosa and Rhys Clayton have also proven handy inside 50 this year, while captain Mitch Walder has the experience and the talent to play as key forward when not placed in defence.
Among the midfield brigade, led by gun Jake Semmel, the likes of Chris Evans and Darcy Hargrave have enjoyed solid campaigns this year while the ever-reliable Liam Wilson lurks around and is damaging with the ball in his hands.
With both sides have enjoyed comfortable wins against the other on their home decks, picking the winner on a neutral venue will be tough.
If you go by form then Murrumbeena will emerge victorious, but Keysborough has what it takes to go through to its maiden Grand Final berth since joining the League.
One thing you can definitely predict is that both sides will hit the ground running and you can expect a high impact, entertaining game which could go down to the wire.
Keysborough by eight points.