TWO teams of young St Arnaud players will be on show at Boort Park as North Central Football League wraps up a big season with a day of grand finals.
It was a tough season for the Saints at the seniors level and the club’s reserves bowed out in the preliminary final but both the under-16 and under-13 sides have enjoyed a week off before the grand final. Both sides will come up against teams from Birchip Watchem.
St Arnaud under-16s coach Alistair Egan said his side had had a good spread of contributors throughout the season. “We have eleven top-age players this season and I think that makes a huge difference,” he said. “If you already have three years of experience playing at this level than you have a bit more confidence. Nobody has really been a standout because we can ask any one of a number of players to lead the way.”
The under-16s side also made it to the grand final in 2016 but came up short against Charlton. Egan said the side was better prepared this season.
“I think Birchip-Watchem are a quality side and have been getting closer to us each time we have played,” he said. “We’re going to need to be better out of the middle of the ground because they’ve managed to get on top of us in there the last couple of times. But then after that it’s about hitting the scoreboard.”
Egan also said his team will benefit from having five players who gained senior football experience during the season. “At this time of year in finals things get a little bit tougher and that extra little bit of experience should be a big boost,” he said. “I think it will be a good game.”
The strength of the club’s youth will also be on show in the under-13 grand final where Andy Medlyn will coach from the sideline.
“The boys are very excited for the match,” he said. “I’m quietly confident but I know that anything can happen because Birchip-Watchem have been playing good football.”
He said his team was full of players with raw talent who had all managed to improve throughout the season.
“I was assistant last season and have watched a lot of these kids come through, it’s really nice to see them do well,” he said. “It’s not all about winning but we’ve got to this stage and I just hope the boys put in another good performance on Saturday.”
In the seniors it will be a rematch of the second semi-final as Birchip-Watchem and Wycheproof-Narraport face off. Wedderburn will start favourite in the reserves grand final against Wycheproof-Narraport