Premier Division Grand Final Preview

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By Josh Ward

The biggest Grand Final of them all is finally here as Rowville and Noble Park will battle it out for the ultimate prize at Bayswater Oval.

 

Rowville

Ladder: 1st (143.11%; 16-2)

Leading goalkicker: Matthew Davey (31 goals)

Most times in best: Anthony Brolic (10), Cooper Macdonald (10), Kane Young (9)

 

Noble Park

Ladder: 2nd (158.27%; 14-4)

Leading goalkicker: Shayne Allan (40 goals)

Most times in best: Chris Horton-Milne (15), Kyle Martin (15), Ryan Morrison (12)

 

It’s been a remarkable rise from the bottom for Rowville this past season, with this Saturday a big opportunity for them to cap it off with their first Premier Division premiership.

 

Whilst many from the outside believed they would struggle, Hawks senior coach Ben Wise said there was plenty of belief amongst the group that they could challenge this year.

 

“The outsiders looking in probably didn’t give us much of a show because they probably didn’t really know many of the names that I’ve got on my list that are homegrown and come through the junior programs,” Wise said.

 

“It’s been really positive to develop another year of senior footy into most of these boys and for them to play and understand the way I want them to, it’s been a really good year to date.”

 

There’ve been plenty of young stars that have taken their game to the next level, with players such as Jake Arundell, Lachlan Wynd, Tyler Edwards, Mitchell Sruk and Josh Clarke all making their debut at the VFL level this year.

 

“Really lucky that these guys are all coming through at the same time and having the older boys complement them it’s been really good so far.”

 

Wise added that the older boys such as Anthony Brolic, Lachlan Macdonald, Alex Frawley, Matthew Davey, and Nik Schoenmakers have all been crucial in the development of the younger players.

 

“Having the older guys, they’re really invested in what we want, and they want success as much as anyone.

 

“They set really good standards, they buy in and train all the time even though a couple of them are new dads and other things are going on in their lives.”

 

Their opponents in Noble Park have had a much steadier rise after struggling in the years before the pandemic. Following a second-place finish last year they finished in the same position this year, this time behind the Hawks instead of Vermont.

 

Bulls senior coach Steve Hughes recently said whilst last year was too short to give a fair assessment, he still believed that they’d be around this area come the end of the season.

 

“I was reasonably confident that we’d be in the mix, we’re really happy with our list, we’ve got a fair bit of depth to our list, and I feel like we’re strong in most areas,” Hughes said.

 

One of the strongest areas for Steve Hughes’ side has been their strong midfield. Whilst Kyle Martin and Jackson Sketcher have gone about their business, like previous years, ex-Dingley star Chris Horton-Milne has come back to the Bullring and had an immediate impact.

 

“(Horton-Milne)’s been outstanding for us, works hard in the engine room, wins the contested ball, works hard around the club and I sort of expected nothing less.

 

However, Hughes has equally been impressed with some of the other players running through midfield to add to the depth in that area of the ground.

 

“Jordan Marson, he’s developed a lot. Lachlan McDonell out on a wing has been outstanding all year, really come on.

 

“That’s probably one of our stronger areas, our midfield group, we’ve been able to generate a bit of depth in there to give support to Jackson and Kyle.”

 

It’s set to be a big day for footy, with both Wise and Hughes excited to have Grand Finals back and believing this game to be a great advertisement for footy in the southeast.

 

“It’s exciting for the comp and it’s good to be back playing a full season and finals footy. It’s exciting for this side of town,” Wise said.

 

“(It’s a) testament to both sides for good footy programs. It’s exciting for southeast footy for sure,” Hughes said.

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