It will be an exciting day for both Southern Mallee Giants and Ararat when they face off in Saturday’s senior football qualifying final.
The Giants will make their Wimmera Football League finals debut, having finished second on the ladder in their inaugural season in the competition.
The Giants are no strangers to finals, having won back-to-back Horsham District league premierships in the last two seasons.
“Our goal at the start of the year was to make finals so to have done that as well as give ourselves a double chance is fantastic,” Giants coach Coleman Schache said.
“There is no doubt we will draw upon the experience we have had in recent seasons.”
The Rats return to the finals for the first time since 2015 this weekend. It has been a huge turnaround year for Ararat, going from three wins in 2017 to 11 this year.
Rats coach Shane Fisher said getting the double chance is a huge benefit to his side.
“We will learn a lot in the finals series having not too much experience and it gets no bigger than playing against the Giants,” he said.
“With the double chance we have the security to try a few new things knowing we get another crack the week after it they don’t pay off.
“It is a bit of the unknown for us which is a bit exciting.”
The Giants have had Ararat’s measure this season, comfortably winning both contests they have played in.
“We have had a couple of good wins against them but they would have learnt a lot in those losses so they will have ideas of how to change the result,” Schache said.
“We will be near full strength for the match so as long as we continue to play our brand of footy I am sure we will enjoy the experience and come away with a good result.”
Fisher said despite two losses to the Giants he is confident his side has the ability to turn the result around.
“We are very respectful of them as a club and team and it is tremendous how they have strengthened the Wimmera league,” he said.
“I would like to think anyone who watched our previous games would say we were competitive against them.
It is tremendous how they have strengthened the Wimmera leagueShane Fisher
“Our biggest drive will be competing on every level, playing traditional footy with plenty of scoreboard pressure.”
The Rats were struck down with injuries in the back end of the season but with the bye in the final round last weekend they have had time to rest players for a big finals campaign.
“The bye could not have come at a better time,” Fisher said.
“We probably had eight of our best 18 not play in our last game against Nhill. I would be hoping we get at least six or seven of those players back.
“We have to consider some of these guys might not be underdone so they will have to prove their fitness before getting selected.”