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Epic showdown for premiership mantle

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• CHASE IS ON: Southern Mallee Giants and Minyip-Murtoa will chase premiership glory when they do battle with Tyler Lehmann, Reece McNally, James Wray, Brad Inglis and Kade Petering all playing key roles in the match.

WIMMERA Football League’s season finale is set for an epic showdown when Horsham City Oval hosts grand final day tomorrow.
Minor premier Minyip-Murtoa and last season’s runner-up Southern Mallee Giants will play off for premiership honours with the Burras looking for its first success in 21 years and the Giants looking for its first title in the Wimmera Football League.
The two sides have competed in the last three season deciders with the Burras suffering back-to-back losses in 2016 and 2017, while the Giants fell short against Horsham in their debut season last year.
On three occasions this season, the Burras have claimed victory in hard-fought contests with the most recent encounter taking place a fortnight ago when they claimed a 27-point victory in the second semi-final.
That day proved to be the widest margin between the sides as the Burras advanced straight through the grand final with a commanding display.
The Giants, however, bounced back strongly last weekend when they dominated a preliminary final battle against Ararat and set themselves for another tilt at the Burras.
In what happens on a regular occurrence, tomorrow’s combatants will see one side enter the grand final on the back of one game in a month, while the other has played every weekend of the finals.
Time will only tell if this is a factor on the day, but one thing is for certain, that both sides will be hitting this contest hard as they try and make up for past grand final memories.
Minyip-Murtoa suffered a cruel two-point loss to Horsham Saints in 2016 and then were well beaten by Horsham in 2017 before missing finals last season.
In a remarkable record, Southern Mallee Giants will contest their fourth grand final in as many years, having claimed back-to-back premierships in their two years in the Horsham District League before playing off in the season decider in their debut Wimmera season last year.
Both possess a wealth of talent through their line-ups which was underlined by Monday night’s Toohey Medal count when Minyip-Murtoa’s Ben McIntyre claimed the honours in front of Giants pair Sam Weddell and coach Coleman Schache.
All three will play key roles in tomorrow’s contest which will have an expected huge crowd on the edge of their seats in what will be a willing battle for supremacy.
Minyip-Murtoa deserves to enter the game as favourites after an undefeated home and away season followed by its semi-final win and coach John Delahunty has done a great job in rebuilding his team after a disappointing 2018.
Delahunty was named coach of the year at Monday night’s awards night and no-one would argue the honour having marshalled his team all season with great effect.
An off-season recruiting drive which netted former junior Tim Mackenzie as assistant coach, Ben and Tim McIntyre and forward ace Brad Inglis into the black, blue and white colours proved the vital impetus which saw the Burras dominate throughout the season.
The quartet have provided Delahunty with a wealth of options to set up scoring chances which have been taken full toll of through the work of Brayden Ison, Jae McGrath, Jason Matthews and Inglis, while the work of Angus Threthowan and Nick Kelson has formed one of the more potent forward set ups in recent years.
Under the ruckwork of Vinnie White, the Burras have been able to take control through the midfield with the McIntyre brothers teaming well with Cooper Bateson, Corey Morgan and Jordan Delahunty, while the inclusion of Kade Petering during the latter part of the season has added an extra string for Delahunty to work with.
Petering has missed the last two seasons after a knee reconstruction and has made a full recovery for his shot at premiership success.
Southern Mallee Giants showed its wares during last weekend’s preliminary final demolition with a potent forward set up complementing the work of midfield team-mates that will set up this grand final for its exciting climax.
Websters, Ben and Josh were outstanding in their dismantling of the Ararat defence last weekend and with Riley Lehmann and possibly Mitch Gleeson will stretch the Burras defence to its maximum.
Gleeson is looking to overcome a hamstring strain and if successful, will complement the strong leading and marking of the Websters which cut a swathe to goal last weekend.
Setting up the scoring chances is a hard running midfield and half backline that uses precision field kicking to its optimum that gives opposition defences little chances of stopping.
Weddell will play a key role across the centre of the ground with his intercept marking and trusty left boot and his combination with Schache, Lou White and Clint Burdett will be vital.
The grunt work of Haydn Drew and Tyler Lehmann at ground level will be an added ingredient for their team’s success as they look to win first use of the ball under the ruck work of Reece McNally who was a dominant force last weekend.
Respective defences will play a huge role in determining tomorrow’s winner with the Burras looking to Mackenzie and Luke Chamberlain to keep opponents under control, while at the other end of the ground, Sam White and Riley Cook will play similar roles for the Giants.
White has enjoyed a stellar finals series to top off another strong season and his battle with either McGrath or Inglis will be worth the admission price itself.
Through the lines, vital match ups will take place as the combination of youth and experience comes to the fore with the Burras Brylie Cameron, Lachie Jordan, Jake Ballagh, Jack Boschen and Bray Cullinan matching strides with Jimmy Wray, Blake Marshall, Tim Sanford, Liam Price, Kai Forsyth and Jason Turnbull.
Minyip-Murtoa has been one team that has had the ability to close down the Giants running play by taking away their run and carry from stoppages, and if able to continue to implement this game style will go a long way to claiming the title.
It’s this play that will provide one of the many highlights as the Giants look to counter the Burras play with slick ball movement that has been such a strong point to their arsenal all season.
With surrounding seats and grandstands filled to the brim with supporters from Minyip, Murtoa, Beulah and Hopetoun, the game will be played at fever pitch in what will be a titanic battle to the final siren.
The main game will start at 2.30pm with the day’s proceedings kicking off at 8.30am when Horsham and Ararat kick off in the Under 14s grand final.
The Under 17s clash will pit Ararat against Horsham Saints at 10.00am and the reserves grand final at 12.00pm will be played between Ararat and Horsham.
Netball action will tip off at 9.00am when Horsham begins a big day on the court where they will have five teams represented.
The 13 and Under game will see the Demons play Horsham Saints before the 15 & Under teams take the court at 10.05am with Horsham and Stawell doing battle.
The 17 & Under clash at 11.10am will see Dimboola seek redemption after missing out on last year’s premiership when they play Ararat, while the C Grade at 12.35pm will see Horsham and Ararat do battle.
B Grade combatants Horsham and Minyip-Murtoa will do battle at 1.40pm before the same teams do battle in the A Grade clash at 3.05pm.
The clash promises to be a great battle as the two runners up of the past two seasons do battle with the Burras looking to claim their first premiership as an amalgamated team.