edfl grand final liftout
Warragul Industrials will be shooting for long awaited premiership glory when they take on Catani in the Ellinbank District Football League grand final on Saturday.
The Industrials won through to their first senior grand final in 21 years, and will look to continue their strong form following on from the momentum gained from defeating their opponent in the qualifying final.
The Industrials will enter the match fresh after a week off, and have been building nicely for the occasion under new coach Josh O’Brien.
Having progressed to a top three finish, the Industrials accounted for Catani in a tight qualifying final before a dominant second half saw them overrun Neerim-Neerim South to advance.
While former Geelong and Gold Coast AFL player Nathan Ablett has been a drawcard, he was rested for the second semi-final where the Industrials still had no problems accounting for the Cats.
The Industrials have a good blend of youth and experience, with talent across every line.
With reliable defenders such as veteran Mathew Willis, Ben Northover and Cooper Minichiello, Josh Peterson is able to play a dangerous role. His accurate disposal by foot with a raking left foot kick quickly turns defence into attack.
John Ikupu has added much-needed height to the ruck, serving talented midfielders Tyson Bale and Tye Holland to engineer attack from centre clearances.
Will Jolley is another dangerous proposition for the opposition. The ability of Jolley and Holland to drift forward and also kick goals has been a significant factor in the sides success this season.
Shane Brewster finds plenty of the ball, whether in the midfield or attack, while Josh Seri has also chipped in at times. Up forward, Corey Nickels is just as capable going for contested marks as on the lead. He has a good leap and for the most part is a good kick at goal. The experienced Shane Ingham proves a good foil.
Young players Dylan Holland, Will Gibson and River Ford have also shown flashes of brilliance at times in positive signs for the Industrials heading into Saturday’s match.
However the team won’t find the task easy, with Catani and Neerim-Neerim South throwing down the challenge at stages in their finals matches to date.
While Catani will need to recover quickly from a hard slog in heavy conditions against Neerim-Neerim South, the Blues will be confident that they have the talent to take it up to the Industrials.
The Blues have a hard-running team and the battle of the midfields could prove instrumental in the outcome.
Owen Fitzpatrick could be damaging up forward should he get enough opportunities, while Ryan Eaton is a livewire and should also prove a handful for the Industrials defence.
Blues midfielders have an ability to push forward and also assist.
Veteran Antonio Benvenuto, Paul Pattison, Cody Banbury, Nicholas Visser and Nathaniel Rodda can all find plenty of the ball.
Wade Haysom has developed as a muchimproved tall, complementing the run of Dale Johnson while John and James Alexander go hard at the ball.
Dylan Williams shows flashes of brilliance and could be a dangerous player for the Blues on the day. Veteran Luke McFarlane has come into the team at the back end of the season to provide valuable experience in defence.
Brandon Scammell will set himself for an enthralling ruck battle with Ikupu that could prove instrumental in determining the outcome.
The venue for Saturday's Ellinbank District Football League grand final remained up in the air at time of going to print.
With the condition of Western Park remaining a concern, league officials were due to meet with Baw Baw Shire management at the ground at 4pm yesterday.
EDFL general manager Ken Moore said while the league hoped the match would remain at Western Park, Garfield and Yarragon were alternative venues that were available.