By Josh Ward.
One of the biggest weekends on the EFNL calendar has arrived, with the Premier Division Grand Final set to take place between two young outfits in Vermont and Rowville.
It’s almost deja vu for the Hawks who have made their second consecutive Premier Grand Final appearance after booking their spot for the game first in the Second Semi Final.
Senior coach Ben Wise recently said that himself and the boys were up and about in their return to Bayswater Oval on Grand Final day.
“It’s a really privileged position to be in, second time around in two years which is a great achievement in itself, but looking to go one further,” Wise said.
Their opponents in Vermont have nearly completed a remarkable turnaround after finishing in ninth last year, booking their spot last weekend with a big win over Doncaster East.
Eagles leader Alex Greenwood recently said that it was also a great feeling to be back on Grand Final day for the first time since their 2019 success.
“The whole league had us ranked outsiders so it was pretty sweet to be able to prove them wrong, play finals and then ultimately end up here,” Greenwood said.
Whilst they’re in a similar boat to last year Wise added that it’s a different side and a much more different year having done it a lot harder this time around than they did in 2022.
“We’re in a much better spot with experience, our list is really strong, we’ve got a really good squad to pick from this week so it’s exciting.”
For Vermont the outside motivation has galvanised the squad into performing at a higher level this time around according to Greenwood.
“We didn’t play well last year so of course you’re motivated but when you’ve got some outside noise and some people doubting you it’s always gonna help.”
Having gone through another month of finals Wise added that the side was better from their first experience of Premier Division finals in 2022.
“When you experience something the first time the second time around you feel like you’ve got a lot of things covered when there was a bit of unknown the year before.”
For Greenwood he’ll play in his third Grand Final for Vermont whilst many will be in their first, adding that having played twice already will help them settle more this time around.
“Come Saturday having gotten two finals under the belt of a lot of younger guys it’ll hopefully be a lot more settled.”
With a talented Vermont midfield led by Greenwood, Lachlan Johns and Lochlan Jenkins, Wise added that getting on top there will hold the key to see who finishes on top.
“90 percent of finals are won and lost in the middle so if you can have ascendancy through there majority of the day it’ll give your forwards the best opportunity to score.”
Greenwood also agreed that the midfield battle would be crucial on the big stage.
“Ultimately midfield is where games are won and lost most weeks. We certainly respect their midfield, they got some big bodies and a bit of leg speed as well in there.”
For Rowville a premiership would be their first at the Premier Division level as well the club’s sixth and its first since their 2012 Division 2 success.
Wise added that winning that elusive Premier Division premiership as well as getting redemption for last year would mean a lot to the club.
“For the life members, the guys that have stood fat the whole way through and been on the journey from day one it (could) be a very special moment for them.”
On the other side of things it would mean a 24th senior premiership for the Eagles as well as their third in the last four completed seasons having won in 2018 and 2019.
Greenwood added that it would mean a lot to gain another premiership for the cabinet for one of the proudest and historic clubs in the EFNL having gone through a lot of change this year.
“We’re a very proud club, very competitive club and we want to win premierships and that’s what we want to do Saturday.”