FOR the third season in a row, Harrow-Balmoral will contest the senior Horsham District league grand final at City Oval.
Standing in their way is Kalkee – a side who has bounced back to finals football and has earned the right to go up against this season’s best side.
Southern Roos coach Nick Pekin said the opening stages of any grand final are important, especially if the weather forecast is accurate.
“The first 10 minutes of a grand final, the heat is on,” Pekin said.
“With fairly ordinary conditions predicted, any chance to gain metres early will be vital. We want to get off to a crucial early lead and try and maintain that. We have been practising a lot putting opposition under pressure at training. I know our best 21 is better than their 21.”
Kalkee co-coach Stuart Farr said getting the basics right will be key.
“It’s simplified at the start. It’s one-on-one football with high pressure. There’s certainly no fancy stuff in the first 10 minutes of a grand final,” he said.
The two coaches will be on opposite sides on Saturday but Farr and Pekin enjoy a close relationship. Farr coached Pekin at Horsham and Pekin said he had learnt a lot from his opposing coach.
“He recruited me back to Horsham back in the day. I have the utmost respect for him and I’m sure we will have a beer come Saturday night,” Pekin said. “It’s sort of the master versus the apprentice a little bit. He did teach me most things throughout the Horsham days.”
Farr said: “He is a very strong competitor and we respect each other. We will put the friendship on hold Saturday and regardless of the result we will catch up and have a beer.”
Harrow-Balmoral’s most recent flag came in 2007 against Kalkee.
LAST TIME THEY MET: Southern Roos secure grand final spot after semi-final win against Kalkee
Since then, the Southern Roos have made it to the grand final five times and lost on all occasions. The Kees beat the Southern Roos in three of those, from 2009-11, while the Southern Mallee Giants have beaten Harrow-Balmoral in the two most recent seasons.
Farr said he wasn’t too focused on the rivalry between the two teams.
“There’s a winner and a loser and I’d much rather be the winner no matter who we play. They are a powerful club and we are out to spoil the party,” he said.
“They have lost the last two grand finals. They can say it won’t be on their minds but they would be lying. We have nothing to lose.”
In terms of team news, Harrow-Balmoral star forward Simon Close is a 50-50 after suffering a knee injury in the semi-final against Kalkee, while the Kees will be without injured pair Daniel Launer and Jacob Harris, both shoulders, with Daniel Schache facing a fitness test.
Pekin said Close could be a risk for Saturday.
“Simon is 50-50 at this stage. I’m hoping he will be right. He has been on ice, looking after his body as best as he can,” he said.