Sport­ing chance of fi­nals glory

Mercury (Hobart) - - FRONT PAGE - BRETT STUBBS RE­PORTS

THEY are from dif­fer­ent codes but th­ese four have one thing in com­mon to­day.

Lind­is­farne foot­baller Ben van Kraa­nen, left, Rhys Watts, of Ta­roona Rugby Club, Di­a­mond Backs hockey player Is­abel Gold­smith and North West Grads’ James Bourke will all play in grand fi­nals to­day.

IT’S fi­nals time for the win­ter codes with a string of de­ciders to­day mark­ing the end of sea­sons across Ho­bart.

Men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s South­ern Foot­ball League and Tas­ma­nian Rugby Union will all hold their grand fi­nals to­day.

For some it is play­ing in front of big crowds, for oth­ers it is test­ing your­self against the best or reap­ing the rewards for a long sea­son — but there is no deny­ing the ex­cite­ment grand fi­nals bring for all.

At the Ho­bart Net­ball and Sports Cen­tre, it will be a fi­nals ex­trav­a­ganza with the South­ern Tas­ma­nian Net­ball As­so­ci­a­tion host­ing 16 grand fi­nals from un­der-11s to un­der-17s and se­nior di­vi­sions with more than 300 play­ers in ac­tion.

At the Tas­ma­nian Hockey Cen­tre at New Town, the Di­a­mond­Backs will play in their third straight women’s grand fi­nal, but com­ing off two de­cider de­feats. The match is against reign­ing premier North West Grad­u­ates.

The score is 2-2 be­tween the sides this year, with the Di­a­mond­Backs vic­to­ri­ous in the pre­vi­ous en­counter.

Di­a­mond­Backs mid­fielder Is­abel Gold­smith was pre­dict­ing a tight bat­tle to­day.

“We’ve been very lucky over the past few years to have lots of suc­cess and it is re­ally ex­cit­ing for the girls to see our work pay off in the sea­son and get to the big dance at the end,” Gold­smith said.

NWG are also in the men’s fi­nale, against fierce ri­val OHA. The Grads’ record this year against OHA is two wins, a draw and a loss.

NWG cen­tre half James Bourke said they would start slight favourites to­day.

“It [grand fi­nals] is just the at­mos­phere — be­ing out on the ground and com­pet­ing at the high­est level in Ho­bart, know­ing you are in the top two teams and bat­tling it out on the day,” Bourke said.

The big boys will clash at Rugby Park, with the Ta­roona Pen­guins look­ing to com­plete the per­fect sea­son in the Tas­ma­nian Rugby Union grand fi­nal against the Devon­port Bulls.

The Pen­guins are un­de­feated for 2017 but cap­tain Rhys Watts does not be­lieve the re­sult is a given.

“I wouldn’t say favourites, there are still two teams out there so I don’t like ‘favourites’ tags or ‘un­der­dogs’ tags,” Watts said. “I’m very ner­vous up un­til kick-off, then all the sys­tems are in place for us to do what we do.”

At the spir­i­tual home of Aus­tralian rules, it is the SFL and first SFL Women’s grand fi­nals.

The South East Suns will take on the Blues in the SFLW with Lind­is­farne and New Nor­folk to bat­tle it out in the men’s.

Lind­is­farne in­flicted New Nor­folk’s only de­feat of 2017 in the semi-fi­nals and Blues Ben Van Kraa­nen is ex­pect­ing a fired-up Ea­gles out­fit out for revenge.

“We will have to play our ab­so­lute best,” Van Kraa­nen said.

“But just to be play­ing in a grand fi­nal in front of big­ger crowds at North Ho­bart Oval is ex­cit­ing and hope­fully top it off with a win with your team­mates.”

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