Great Flinders finals begin this weekend at Ungarra.
Tumby Bay and Lock kick off the day in the colts, while in the reserves and A grade, local rivals Ramblers and Cougars go head to head for a spot in the preliminary final.
Colts – Tumby Bay v Lock (10.30am)
Tumby Bay will go into this as favourites, but will need to be mindful of a determined Lock side that has genuine class in their mix.
They will be well led by their number one player, Macauley Glover, who will play on-ball and in defence, and is a class act who will not waste the ball.
Crosby and Wheare give them run and Pearce is a dangerous forward option and will need to monitored.
The Blues will look to their key players in Pople, Higgins, the McDonald brothers and the pacey Charlie Richardson, while Cross, if he plays, will top off their talent and make them difficult to beat.
Lock beat the Blues earlier in the year, and if they can bring that tenacity to the table in this one then they can make life difficult for their opposition.
Expect a tight first half, but Tumby look to have a bit too much class and depth and will win comfortably by five goals plus.
Reserves – Cougars v Ramblers (12.30pm)
This contest looks to be a belter with Ramblers getting up last week by the barest of margins in a tough contest that Cougars will be keen to turn around.
They should get key players back based on the returning A graders, but they will need to be at their best to over turn last weeks result.
Brad White has had an outstanding season and is a quality player at this level, Ridgway and Bache give them plenty of run. They boast quality experience in Puckridge, Turnbull and Ackland that will all play big roles at different stages.
Ramblers look to be building at the right time of the year and will be keen to repeat last weeks narrow win to advance to the prelim.
Scott Blacker will lead them from the front, (if he doesn’t get the call up to the As) and is pure silk at reserves level, Williams gives them a strong target up forward, and Franklin, Deslandes, Ponting, Fitzgerald and youngsters Ryan and Povey give them some quality across the ground.
This looks to be a really even contest with both sides boasting some genuine quality, but going to go with Cougars to turn the tables on last week’s game and get up by two to three goals.
A grade – Ramblers v Cougars (2.30pm)
Based on last week’s result, this almost looks a lopsided contest, but Cougars will welcome back key personnel who are sure to boost their side and make this an interesting clash.
There’s not a whole lot of love-lost between the two, so supporters can expect nothing short of a bruising encounter to kick of the finals series.
Cougars will welcome back Brad Hazelgrove, Monfries and Ness, who missed last week, which gives them potent goal scoring power which was sorely missed a week ago.
Just how they rebound will be interesting as they were comprehensively beaten by the Magpies in the final minor round game, and will need to respond strongly if they are to somehow turn that around.
Their chances may hinge on the availability of Levi Konitzka who did not return to the ground after quarter time last week and they can ill afford to have him missing.
Lochie Paech will have a huge role to play in the midfield against an in-form George Pedler, and from all reports Rob Shirley smelt the “finals air” last week and was back to his very best.
Their defence was outstanding but the likes of Dennis, Ford and Mickan will have a different opposition to deal with this week, especially if Monfries and Hazelgrove drift forward.
At the other end of the ground Pedler and Rowe will give the Magpies big targets, and Bilney looms as a dangerous player in front of goals for the Cougars defenders led by Wedd, Paech, Cragg-Sappsford and possibly Moroney.
They will need defensive pressure from their on-ballers to limit the supply and opportunities to Ramblers’ forwards.
Cougars will be improved, but can they turn a 99-point deficit around?
I think they’re going to struggle – expect a much bolder showing, but Ramblers to be too good in the end and win by two to three goals.