by Ben Waterworth (Twitter: @bjwaterworth)
PREMIERSHIP teams are often built around two strong defensive pillars.
West Coast had Ashley McIntosh and Glen Jakovich, Brisbane had Mal Michael and Justin Leppitsch while North Melbourne had Mick Martyn and Jason McCartney.
Humble Division 3 club Doncaster, however, has Ben Marganis and Matt Schimmelbusch.
As the Sharks prepare for Sunday’s ‘Choose Tap’ Grand Final against Wantirna South, their fans can be assured of the skill and class of their two tall defenders.
The combination of full-back Marganis and centre half-back Schimmelbusch is one of the best and most reliable in the EFL. The two defenders complement each other superbly and have developed a tremendous chemistry over the past decade.
Marganis and Schimmelbusch, who both attended East Doncaster Secondary College, played a year of junior footy together in 2003 for Beverley Hills in the YJFL. Both graduated to senior footy via the Sharks over the following two years.
And since 2005, they have barley been separated on the footy field.
After playing so close to each other for so long, it is no wonder both know each other’s game’s inside out.
‘We get along really well together. We’ve been full-back and centre half-back for the past four years, so we’re pretty used to each other now,’ Marganis said.
Schimmelbusch says his partner in crime down back is one of the most steadfast backmen in Division 3.
‘Knowing that he [Marganis] will beat his man mostly week-in week-out gives me a bit of confidence to use the ball and run up the ground,’ Schimmelbusch said.
‘Ben has great closing speed and a great leap. He uses those long arms to jump over the back and spoil, which makes it really hard for his opponents to get on top. He’s also really, really quick.’
Traditionally, Marganis takes the opposition forward that plays deepest to goal.
And the way it has worked out this season, Marganis has had to contend with some of the best and most elusive forwards Division 3 has ever seen.
‘Ben’s played on Steve Pimm when we’ve played Mitcham and Daniel Beddome when we’ve played Wantirna South,’ Schimmelbusch said.
‘He tends to take the forwards that play closer to goal, as he’s a better lock-down defender.’
Conversely, Schimmelbusch tends to play further up the ground, giving great drive and rebound from defence.
‘Schimma’s one of the great leaders at the footy club. Everyone looks up to him. It’s great to have him in front of me,’ Marganis said.
‘He’s good with his pace and running off. He sets up a lot of play off centre half-back.’
However, Marganis and Schimmelbusch are not the only reasons why the Sharks finished the home and away season as the second-best defensive team in Division 3.
Players such as James Siakavelis and skipper Luke Parker have stepped up and continued to improve during 2013.
Marganis says the Sharks’ back six is like its own ‘little family’.
‘We’re good at working things out as a back six. We communicate well and have faith in every single one of us. We’re prepared to do anything for each other,’ he said.
As good as the Sharks’ back six has been this season, Marganis knows their job is not done yet.
And trying to contain Wantirna South’s potent forward line will not be an easy task.
‘They [Wantirna South] played very good when we played them last,’ he said.
‘We know we have to be at our best in all areas to give ourselves the best chance of winning. We just need an even effort from everyone.
‘If we as a back six are on our game, it will make everyone else’s job a lot easier.’
Schimmelbusch believes his team will have a slight advantage at the stoppages.
‘Our rucks look a bit bigger and taller than Wantirna’s rucks. But in the end it all comes down to supply in the midfield,’ he said.
‘Our style of play will hold us in good stead.’
And the Sharks will no doubt be in good stead on Sunday with Schimmelbusch and Marganis holding the fort down back.