WHEN the final siren sounds at the end of Saturday’s reserves grand final a club will have claimed its first Horsham District Football Netball League premiership in the competition.
The Southern Mallee Giants were five goals away from taking out the reserves premiership in 2016, their first season in the competition, while Edenhope-Apsley came close in 2012 and 2013.
The 2013 grand final was ultimately decided by one point. A handful of players, including current coach Sam Whitehead, are still searching for grand final success.
“We’re all very excited for the game, it’s a grand final you’ve got to be excited,” Whitehead said.
“It’s been a long time between flags four the club’s seconds.”
The Saints finished the regular season second on the ladder but have been able to bolster their side with seniors players in finals.
A four-point win against minor premiers Harrow-Balmoral in the semi-final was enough to earn a spot in the grand final and another week off.
Whitehead said he was reasonably confident heading into the grand final.
“We just have to bring that same level of pressure we brought against Harrow-Balmoral,” he said.
“I think it will be a tight and scrappy affair if we can’t get on top in the contest early.”
The Saints side will rightly be wary of the Giants given they lost the round 10 encounter by 35 points.
“We have a totally different side in now though,” Whitehead said.
“It’s difficult to read into reserves results because teams change so much from week to week.
“We know they’ve got some really good players.
“It will be important to try and limit the influence of Simon Cook because he has plenty of experience which is important in grand finals.”
Giants coach David Baulch said the two teams approach the game differently.
“Edenhope-Apsley are certainly a bigger side than us and we need to try and match them in contested football,” he said.
“I think we have a bit more run on the outside though. That might be where we can look to get on top.”
The Giants won their way into the grand final after finishing the regular season third on the ladder and managing to upset Harrow-Balmoral in the preliminary final.
Baulch said it was his side’s good mix of players which had allowed it to perform well this season.
“I think our younger plays could prove to be the difference at the end of the game but the experience of players like Simon (Cook) and Michael Saunders in the ruck will also be big,” he said.
“Edenhope-Apsley will have plenty of guys with seniors experience across the board. I think someone like Oliver Close could certainly have a big impact.”
More than half the Giants’ team that plays on Saturday will have played in grand finals in 2016 with either the seniors or reserves.
Baulch said having both teams in the grand final again provided a certain advantage.
“It means we have another group to share the experience with,” he said.
“We’re just all really happy to have another crack at it this season.”