Roos favourites but Kees in hunt
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
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.