ONE is aiming for consecutive premierships and the continuation of a Wimmera Football League dynasty.
The other is hoping to start one.
Come late Saturday afternoon, either the Horsham Demons or the Southern Mallee Giants will be a step closer to their dream after securing a spot in the 2018 Wimmera league grand final.
The Demons – who have won 12 of the past 15 Wimmera league senior premierships – finished the 2018 home and away season as minor premiers, two wins clear of the Giants in their debut Wimmera season.
The Giants are also coming off a grand final win last year, in the Horsham District league. They won the league’s senior premiership in their first season in 2016.
History alone makes it difficult to predict a winner in Saturday’s semi-final. The Demons comfortably won the first encounter between the two teams in round three, but the Giants turned the tables in round 12.
Demons coach Deek Roberts said his team needed to be consistent across four quarters to win the match.
“We need to get our pressure at a high level and make sure our defence is up to scratch,” he said.
“They are a very good attacking team. They run hard forward and they set up pretty well behind the ball.
“We’ll need to be on top or at least break even in those few areas. If we do that, we're a good chance.”
Roberts said finishing the season on top of the ladder would not come into the equation on Saturday mentality-wise.
“When the game is contested and hot, you're not going to be thinking, 'We finished on top – we should beat these guys',” he said.
“The only thing it does do is it gives you a week longer to prepare. It also helps with injury niggles and things, but I think once the adrenaline is running, no player remembers how sore they are – they just play.
“We might be in better shape going into the final quarter if the weather is hot, given we've had a week off, but it’s hard to know.
“We're preparing for a physical contest.”
Roberts said the vast Ararat ground suited his team’s style of play.
“We're a running side anyway, so we don't mind the bigger ground,” he said.
“But having said that the Giants played some good footy there, so I think they'll be looking forward to it just as much as us.
“It will obviously be harder to defend them, but if we stick to what we've been training for, it will suit us.”
Giants coach Coleman Schache said his players were looking forward to the contest.
“Finals football is always exciting – it always goes up a level,” he said.
“We'll need to play a consistent four quarters. We were pretty lucky when we beat them last time, as we had a poor first half.
“We'll have to be strong around the ball to beat them.”
Schache said the team had identified Demon Ryan Kemp as a key match-up.
“He is a really dangerous forward for them. He's kicked a lot of goals this year, and is a smart player who will take some stopping,” he said.
While you’re with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you’re up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.