By Liam Vertigan
Well, here we are grand final day in division two and this match up for the ultimate prize sets up to be an absolute cracker.
The Vampires of East Brighton have been absolutely superb in season taking on everything that has come before them in season 2023. They finished the home and away season in first position with an imposing record of 17-1 with the only blemish coming against preliminary finalist Doveton in round 11 going down by nine points.
From that day on, the Vampires were able to go on a roll, winning every game and in that time they were able to put on some imposing scores with scores of 100+ becoming a near weekly occurrence.
Going into finals, the Vampires reaped the rewards of finishing in first position, which allowed them the week off, before they would come up against the Doves for their chance to jump into a thoroughly deserving Grand Final. On that day two weeks ago, led by a Nick Corp six goal effort, they were simply supreme dispatching the Doves by 45 points and a day ruckman Daniel Taberner flexed his muscles in the ruck contest.
However, the Murrumbeena Football Netball Club, who are a proud club with history any other club would love to have. Having now made back-to-back senior grand finals after their Division Three Grand Final appearance in 2022, they now find themselves two hours away from potential glory and fulfilling a club goal of getting into first division.
Oozing with talent from the back line right through the middle and ending deep in the forward line coach Liam Wilson will no doubt have his men primed and ready for today’s contest.
In 2023, the Lions were super impressive handling the jump up a division from last year almost seamlessly as they finished the home and away season in second position with a 15-3 record to their name.
Unlike East Brighton, the Lions had to first get through Doveton to face the Vampires for the first ticket into today’s grand final but unfortunately fell short on that day, meaning the boys from Murrumbeena had to do it the hard way. After that loss to the Doves, Highett was on the horizon for the Lions and this time there were no second chances. They took that challenge head on and stayed alive in 2023 with key forwards in Tolongs, Willis & Cloke being vital.
After moving past Highett, where footy is a funny game, they then flipped the script on runner up in division two from last year in Doveton just two weeks after being comfortably beaten to win
their way through to today’s grand final last weekend with the big body of Shirley down back along with Pollard & Hargrave in the middle setting it up.
So we come to today, where these two sides met twice in the home and away season in rounds 1 & 10 respectfully with the Vampires getting the choccies on both occasions to the tune of 35 & 30 points.
The Vampires have key forward targets in Nick Corp & Tom Lamb who have kicked 128 goals between them to this stage but the Lions also have smaller forwards who may not be as big as the two Vampires men but have speed while Steve Tolongs & Paul Tsoucalas have been magnificent this year and will stake their claims early on.
The midfield battle will be as intriguing with Jordy Pollard, Cory Hargrave & recently crowded Division 2 League Best & Fairest, Sammy Michael bouncing around for the Lions as they battle the likes of the Semmel’s, Blake Cochrane & Jack Rennex. Watch out for the other likes of 350+ gamer Mark Jamieson who gets better with age as well as Cale Love-Linay who will provide run while James Shirley will hold up the Lions defence.
You can almost assure the typical grand final nerves from both sides but it’ll be the side who can get composed early and use the ball nicely who will go a long way into getting their hands on the cup.
In terms of a tip, it’s awfully hard to go past the Vampires following their season to date but never write off a side who’s clearly been right behind them for the whole year and who knows maybe the winning from weeks gone by could be enough.
Vampires by 7