IT has been a story of two teams throughout the 2017 season.
Southern Mallee Giants have once again dominated the league – much like their performance last season, which culminated in a premiership.
Harrow-Balmoral has upped its game in 2017, coming within points against the Giants in round 14.
The two teams will be on the big stage at the Horsham City Oval on Saturday.
Looking back to round three when the Giants hosted the Southern Roos, it seemed the host team would once again breeze to an easy minor premiership, defeating the travelling outfit 11.16 (82) to 7.7 (49).
Southern Roos coach Paul Cleaver said at the time, his team was still in the process of learning to play together.
“We were in the process of changing our game plan,” he said. “We made a lot of mistakes and the Giants are one of those teams that really hurt you if you make too many mistakes.
“We turned the ball over too many times and they came out on top. We were lucky to get away with the margin we did.”
Giants coach Shaun Monohan said his team was simply “on” that day.
“We started well and they were a bit off,” he said.
The Southern Roos took it to the Giants when they hosted the round 14 match at Balmoral.
The Giants won that game 9.8 (62) to 8.10 (58).
Monohan said the game was anyone’s for the taking.
Cleaver said his team got on top early.
“They fought back and it ebbed and flowed all day,” he said. “Late in the last quarter, they just got on top a little bit and were able to finish.
“Our backmen were playing exceptionally well but they just got a couple of goals that came from nothing really. They managed to sneak a win by four points.”
Cleaver said it was a close contest.
“The pressure applied by both sides meant you had very little time to do something with the ball … when you went forward it was important to try and capitalise. It really was difficult to move the ball,” he said.
This lead to the semi-final when the two teams met at Cameron Oval Reserve, Laharum. The Giants won 13.8 (86) to 7.15 (57).
Monohan was impressed with his team during the semi-final.
“We played very well and they were wasteful,” he said.
Cleaver said the biggest disappointment was his charges didn’t start well.
“For whatever reason, we started pretty poorly and they got that jump.
“Then we burnt all our petrol tickets trying to get back into the game,” he said.