by Peter Baird (Twitter: @frostybaird)
WANTIRNA South or Doncaster?
Everyone has a view and tip on how a Grand Final will play out and which team will be crowned the premiers.
Perhaps those with the best insight though are the men who coached against the two teams squaring off in the Division 3 Grand Final tomorrow afternoon.
I caught up with the other coaches from Division 3 and asked for their tips and views ahead of the big game.
Scott Homewood (Mitcham – 3rd)
Prediction – Doncaster by 18 points
‘The Sharks’ experienced players will settle into their game earlier and will take their opportunities throughout the game. They’re two evenly matched teams but I think that Doncaster’s experience will see them take their chances better.’
Marc Hardy (Boronia – 4th)
Prediction – Wantirna South by 18 points
‘Wantirna South has great run and carry and a fantastic blend of youth and experience. They have superior fitness and leg speed and, on the big ground at East Burwood, will be too quick for Doncaster.’
Michael Glassborrow (The Basin – 5th)
Prediction – Doncaster by 15 points
‘I think that Wantirna South is the best team, but Doncaster has a couple of X-factor layers that you need in Grand Finals to get over the line. If Doncaster can open Wantirna South up across the middle, the Devils will struggle to contain their forward line.’
John Brown (Templestowe – 6th)
Unavailable for comment.
Steve Buckle (Heathmont – 7th)
Prediction – Wantirna South by 13 points
‘Wantirna South are the best coached team in the competition. They’re the most disciplined and are very well drilled. They have great inside players and they get plenty of run on the outside too.’
Brent Jane (Ringwood – 8th)
Prediction – Wantirna South by 10 points
‘I thinks it’s super tight but Wantirna South’s winning form in the finals suggests I should tip them on that. I’m going to go with that but not with any real confidence. The big ground suits Wantirna South and they have a lot of great outside, running type players.’
Mark Fitt (Glen Waverley Hawks – 9th)
Prediction – Wantirna South by 10 points
‘I think that Wantirna South’s bottom half a dozen players are better than Doncaster’s bottom six. That’s what wins you Grand Finals. Wantirna South has a much more even spread and are not as reliant on a few key individuals. Matt Clarke has them playing good footy at the moment.’
Leigh Horsburgh (Chirnside Park – 10th)
Prediction – Wantirna South by 3 points
‘I think players like [Brad] Hutchinson and [Andrew] Teakel step up in the big games and are the types of guys that will get Wantirna South home tomorrow. If the Wantirna South defense can shut down the Doncaster forward line, they will go a long way towards winning. Everywhere else, the two teams are evenly matched.’
Tony Vitacca (Whitehorse Pioneers – 11th)
Prediction – Wantirna South by 12 points
‘Structurally, Wantirna South are just a more even side and in a pressure game like a Grand Final, it will get them up. Doncaster has some players that are very dynamic but over the four quarters the Wantirna South balance will see them as premiers.’
John O’Brien (Warrandyte – 12th)
Prediction – Wantirna South by 6 points
‘In my opinion, Wantirna South has been the yardstick all year. Their spread of goal kickers is good. They have genuine game breakers in [Andrew] Teakel and [Brayden] Harkness and their rebound off half back is tremendous. They are extremely well coached by Matt Clarke who has them up and going at the business end of the year.’
The Final Verdict…
Wantirna South – 7
Doncaster – 2
For what all appear to think will be a really tightly fought contest, none of the opposition coaches has selected a margin in excess of 18 points. It appears that Wantirna South is still a favorite pick.
Consensus suggests that the Doncaster forward line may pose problems for Wantirna South, but the Devils may have the edge when it comes to pace.
Whilst games are rarely won in the coach’s box and not on the field, Wantirna South coach Matt Clarke may be the X-factor, with several opposition coaches highlighting the job he has done with the Devils this year.