by Peter Baird (Twitter: @frostybaird)
SOUTH Belgrave or Forest Hill?
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 4 Grand Final tomorrow afternoon.
I caught up with the other nine coaches from Division 4 and asked for their tips and views ahead of the big game.
Bernie Ryan (Ferntree Gully – 3rd)
Prediction – South Belgrave by 48 points
‘They’ve got more winners across every line. They’ve got finals experience and will be hungry to go through the season undefeated all the way to a premiership. [Leigh] Odermatt is a match winner and is so versatile and [Alex] Benbow is just a star. They’ve got up to 12 players that can rip the game apart.’
Chris Goodlet (Silvan – 4th)
Prediction – South Belgrave by 64 points
‘South Belgrave have had their sights set on this game since they went down to The Basin in the Grand Final 12 months ago. They showed throughout the year that they’re a class above Division 4 in not losing a game and will comfortably account for Forest Hill.’
Simon Caldwell (Kilsyth – 5th)
Prediction – South Belgrave by 63 points
‘South Belgrave has been the best side all year. They’re very evenly spread and don’t have many weaknesses. All credit to Forest Hill, but the Saints won’t lose this one and are ready to step up to Division 3 next year.’
Matt Price (Coldstream – 6th)
Prediction – South Belgrave by 40 points
‘They’ve got the most across all the lines on the ground and their midfield will be too strong and will pose too many problems for Forest Hill to cover. Forest Hill have played some good footy and I hope they go well, but South Belgrave will be too strong.’
Peter Nicholson (Park Orchards – 7th)
Prediction – South Belgrave by 51 points
‘I’m going on a gut feeling. The margin could either be one point or 101 points so I’m going to go somewhere in the middle with 51 points. With the confidence of an undefeated season, South Belgrave will be too good. They just have greater depth overall.’
Andrew Toop (Surrey Park – 8th)
Prediction – South Belgrave by 48 points
‘South Belgrave have the all-round strength and they’re ready. Forest Hill will have trouble controlling them and will have to pull out all stops to cope with such a multi-pronged forward line. I don’t want to underplay the effort from Forest Hill in getting there – their last month of football has been terrific. But South Belgrave have been the dominant side all year and their time is now’
Frank Salanitri (Nunawading – 9th)
Prediction – South Belgrave by 25 points
‘It may just be closer tomorrow than people think. Forest Hill have been very impressive over the last month and if [Scott] McPherson, [Ash] Naulty, and [Mark] Shalders can get on top, the Zebras are definitely a chance. Saying that though, South Belgrave are a quality outfit and their bigger bodies should prevail. [Leigh] Odermatt, [Alex] Bakens and [Lukas] Appleby will give them a hard time and [Kim] Aboujaber is in great form.’
Rob Kreskas (Eastern Lions – 10th)
Prediction – South Belgrave by 60 points
‘They were the best side all year. They have too many strengths all over the park. No one got close to them this year and it won’t be any different tomorrow.’
Ang Lamanna (Canterbury – 11th)
Prediction – South Belgrave by 30 points
‘Form throughout the year suggests South Belgrave are good things. They’ve got enough midfielders to get plenty of quality supply into their damaging forward line. Forest Hill won’t be able to contain their multiple avenues to goal.’
The Final Verdict…
South Belgrave – 9
Forest Hill – 0
All the Division 4 coaches agree that South Belgrave is a clear-cut favorite to win tomorrow.
Can the Forest Hill fairytale last one more week and will South Belgrave be resigned to ponder the one that got away? Or will the Saints deliver on the expectation that has been building since their loss in the same game last year?
We’ll find out tomorrow at Walker Park!