Roos favourites but Kees in hunt

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY DEAN LAW­SON

If be­ing a run­away favourite to win a flag based on past re­sults meant any­thing then some­one for­got to tell Har­row-bal­moral coach Nick Pekin.

Pekin, busy draw­ing up plans against Kal­kee for a Hor­sham Dis­trict foot­ball grand-fi­nal show­down on Satur­day, dis­missed the con­cept of be­ing favourite or un­der­dog as ir­rel­e­vant.

“When it comes to a grand fi­nal, what’s hap­pened dur­ing the season is his­tory, noth­ing more,” he said.

“It’s about two sides go­ing head-to-head on the day.

“I think it will be the team that gets on the board early that will hold on. Hope­fully that side is us.

“We’re not dis­ad­van­taged in any way go­ing into the fi­nal.

“The sim­ple hope is that every­one can con­trib­ute and play well.”

Kal­kee joint coach Stu­art Farr, while agree­ing with Pekin about the con­test pri­mar­ily com­ing down to what hap­pens on the day, had a dif­fer­ent point of view.

“The truth is, we have noth­ing to lose and they are red-hot favourites. They have also lost the past two grand fi­nals. You can say it doesn’t play a part, but it does,” he said.

“What­ever will be will be, but we’re con­fi­dent we can stir it up.”

Har­row-bal­moral has been wait­ing to find out who its op­po­nent will be for the 2018 pre­mier­ship, while Kal­kee has had two tough fi­nals.

The South­ern Roos skipped into the season play-off with a com­pre­hen­sive sec­ond semi­fi­nal win over the Kees, while the Kees, after the Roos loss, bounced back well last week to beat Eden­hope-ap­s­ley in a solid work-out.

Eden­hope-ap­s­ley made Kal­kee work hard for its chance at a flag, but in the end it was play­ers such as vet­eran Steve Schultz, Si­mon Hobbs, Har­vey and Jasper Gunn and four-goal Lachie Ex­ell who hauled the team across the line.

“The sim­ple hope is that every­one can con­trib­ute and play well” – Nick Pekin

Height ad­van­tage

Much of the dis­cus­sion this week, apart from form, has been about how Har­row-bal­moral has a sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tage over the Kees in the air.

Pekin has been talk­ing about the Roos’ strength in the air all season that goes beyond the likes of ruck­man Todd Lawrence and a spine in­clud­ing Michael Phe­lan and An­thony Close.

“We have good ruck­men and the mes­sage is that in the mid­field group we don’t make them look good enough,” Pekin said.

“The main fo­cus on Satur­day is about be­ing on our game through the mid­dle, get­ting the ball as soon as we can and ap­ply­ing pres­sure on the ball car­rier when it’s not in our hands.

“We’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to play­ing on Hor­sham City Oval, which is a lot smaller than our two grounds. We’re go­ing to bring phys­i­cal­ity and pres­sure, and at­tack.”

Pekin said he was de­lighted Har­row-bal­moral’s re­serves were also in a grand fi­nal.

“We’ve ro­tated al­most 80 per­cent of our re­serves list –given them a crack. Our main goal at the start of the year was to win two pre­mier­ships,” he said.

Farr ac­knowl­edged Har­row­bal­moral’s per­ceived ad­van­tage in the air, adding that get­ting the ball to ground would be high on the Kees’ agenda. “We need to get it to ground and stop their free run out of the mid­dle. We can’t af­ford to let them get for­ward of the ball,” he said.

“But after the for­ward pres­sure we saw last week­end we’re con­fi­dent our lit­tle blokes can go to work. We have to make sure we get our fair share of in­side 50s.”

Farr, who is joint coach with play­ing leader Hamish Ex­ell, was also look­ing for­ward to play­ing at Hor­sham City Oval.

“The bet­ter sur­face will suit our run­ning game,” he said.

Both Pekin and Farr stressed a need for their play­ers to en­joy the build-up, at­mos­phere and game.

Har­row-bal­moral will play Jeparit-rain­bow in the re­serves grand fi­nal, No­rad­juhaquan­tong and Pimpinio will meet in the un­der-17s and Swifts and Tay­lors Lake meet in an un­der-14 clash.

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