Can the Tungamah Bears win this Saturday’s Picola South East Football League Grand Final and continue their golden era and claim their fourth premiership in five years?
Or will it be the year where the Rennie Hoppers rise from the ashes and win their first senior premiership since 2011?
Tungamah, who claimed the minor premiership, will go in as slight favourites after defeating Rennie in the second semi-final by 14 points in a tight tussle and earning the week off.
Playing coach Jeremy O’Brien said after some inconsistent performances through the middle of the season his side has saved its best footy for the business end of the season.
“We have been playing some good footy; probably our best footy of the season,” he said.
“We have been a bit inconsistent throughout the year and that has been in part due to being hit pretty hard with injuries – at times with nine or ten players out.
“We’ve had something like 42 players through the senior list.”
Now with a healthy list O’Brien faces a selection dilemma with important back flanker Adrian Connell ready to come into the side after recovering from injury.
“Adrian’s in our best 22 so it will be a hard decision,” O’Brien said.
Despite the week off Tungamah has kept up its intensity on the training track and grabbed the opportunity to play a practice match last Sunday at Katandra to get a feel of the ground that will host the grand final this Saturday.
“We don’t play many games there so it was good to get a feel of the ground and work though our structures,” he said.
Having not won a senior game since mid-2014, Rennie have taken giant steps forward in season 2017.
“It’s pretty exciting to be in the finals, we aimed to be in finals but to make a grand final is even more satisfying,” senior coach Craig Ednie told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
“Not having won a game for two and half years and now to play in a grand final there’s a real excitement around the club.”
The Hoppers were impressive in their 37 point preliminary final victory over Shepparton East with playing coach Ednie awarded best on the ground.
“We need to get a good start and hopefully the nerves will settle and the boys can embrace it,” Ednie said.
Rennie captain Jarryd Fountain will for the first time lead the Hoppers to their first grand final since 2011.
“There’s a real buzz around the club, we are all looking forward to the challenge,” Fountain said.
For Tungamah captain and 2017 Picola South East Football League Pearce Medal winner Bodhi Butts it will also be the first time he has captained a senior team to a grand final.
“I’m looking forward to it, it will be a good game Rennie are a good side, “he said
Both teams boast talented midfields but it will be how each team’s defence can minimise the impact of the opposition forwards that may determine the outcome of the game.
A strength for Tungamah has been its spread of key goal scoring players such as Chapman, Saunders and Clark that can cause headaches for the Rennie defence. The Hoppers will look to their own players such as Strawhorn, Bayles and Sudholz whom can equally cause problems up forward for the Bears.
Bears vs Hoppers in 2017;
Round 6: Tungamah 14.9 (93) def Rennie 10.11 (73)
Round 13: Rennie 14.16 (100) def Tungamah 10.7 (67)
Second-Semi Final: Tungamah 12.15 (87) def Rennie 11.7 (73)