Coaches face selection dilemmas
THE claws will be out this Sunday when Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault and Bunbury meet to decide the 2017 South West Football League premiers.
The competition’s two top teams have found themselves rightfully in this year’s decider and the anticipation for who breaks their respective premiership drought is at fever pitch.
But before both teams hit the field come Sunday, there is some heartache to be had, with team selections set to see a number of players miss out.
The Lions could make two changes this weekend, with co-captain Jordan Sell and midfielder Ty Armitage set to make themselves available.
Coach Derek Hall said the duo would have to get through training first if they were to be picked.
“Whether those two don’t get up or two blokes miss out, there is going to be some heartache,” he said.
“That is the horrible part.” Bunbury coach Jamie Nani said Ryan Davis and Kyle Bassett were a chance to play as well after missing the weekend’s preliminary final.
“I think with every grand final there is a hard luck story,” he said.
“Xavier (Williamson) and Gaeton (Mwanangela) have also been good in the reserves lately and are a chance.”
The Lions will be looking to buck the trend of semi-final winners losing grand finals, after Carey Park and Collie Eagles finished second in the past two years.
Hall said the Lions had trained hard during the week’s break and were prepared for Sunday’s clash.
“We trained as per normal during the week and also added a session on Saturday,” he said.
“There was limited contact but they work hard.
“Word from them (the players) was that they pulled up like it was a game except for all the bumps and bruises.”
Nani said the Dogs had a light session on the track on Monday, with their final run to be tomorrow night.
Hall said that if Nani believed the Bulldogs had played at “50 per cent” during their semi-final, then the Lions would have to improve.
“I read those comments in the paper (South Western Times, September 14) with interest,” he said.
Hall said a key to their success would be the match-up of defender Thomas Quaife on former AFL midfielder Brett Peake.
“He (Peake) was strong again at the weekend,” he said.
“Tom has played on him three times now and is a good match-up for him when he goes forward.
“If he stays on him when he goes up the field or we hand that over is something we will have to think about. But Peake always looks dangerous.”
Nani said he “trusted” Peake to make the call of where he played.
“I back him to go where he needs to go to help us,” he said.
“The space of Hands Oval suits him.”
Nani said the experience of former Lions premiership defender Matt Doherty, as well as that of Codey Hay, Matt Martin and Peake would be relied upon this week for the younger players.
“You always lean on those guys to some extent,” he said.
“Doherty is a player who has won one so we will be using his experience as well.”
Hall said he was impressed with young Bulldog Braiden McMullen, who he believed was a key contributor in the Bulldogs’ win on Sunday.
“I was really impressed as he ran hard and linked up well,” he said.
Hall acknowledged Bunbury had a strong midfield with McMullen, Aidan Clarke, Jordan Falco and Harry Creasey all playing well.
But he said he backed his side to win the battle in the centre.
“There will be some terrific match-ups all over the ground,” he said.
Nani said the Bulldogs would have to improve in their midfield if they were to stop a repeat of the semi-final loss.
“We got beaten in the middle and by their over-lap outside running,” he said.
“We need to get our game back to the level it was a few weeks ago.”
Hall acknowledged that the Lions did not have a “conventional” forward line, but believed Kristin Thornton and his teammates would compete.
“We think we have the firepower up forward,” he said.
“We have run him (Thornton) through the midfield and may again this weekend.
“He is a hard match-up for most teams.”
Nani said Hay had done a “reasonable” job on Thornton in the past and would likely do it again, while the versatility of fellow defender Travis Justins could help with the team’s structure.
“Trav can go forward for us as well,” he said.
“We will throw around all those ideas.”
Nani said young forward Patrick Farrant could stand up on the big stage of the grand final after having a quiet game at the weekend.
“He was serviceable against Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault last time,” he said.
“But he is definitely one of those players who could turn it on.
“Paddy has great hands and a great leap.”
Bouncedown is set for 2.30pm on Sunday.
Bunbury’s Patrick Farrant could provide the X-factor for Bunbury in this weekend’s South West Football League grand final against Harvey-Brunswick-Leschenault.