Grand Final Fever: SA country footy grand final previews – week 1

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By Peter Argent

Adelaide Plains Football League

Finishing second and third on the ladder at the end of the minor round, Two Wells play Balaklava in the APFL season decider on the expanses of “Balak” Oval.

The second-placed Two Wells Roosters knocked off minor premier, the previously undefeated Mallala in the second semi-final.

Shane Moss’s Balaklava Peckers were 11-point winners in the penultimate match of the campaign, despite having nine less scoring shots than the inaccurate Magpies, who kicked 5.15.

The Roosters had a massive 67-point win over this week’s Grand Final opponent back in round two, but in a tight contest in round eight won by only five points at this venue.

Luke Barnett has produced a strong season for Two Wells, as has former Central District and Norwood footballer Caleb Edmead, both having kicked 36 goals this year.

Jamie Humphrys, evergreen veteran Ned Seccafien and Ben Spiteri are others to watch in the red and white.

Lachlan Michael has constructed a consistent season for the Peckers, while journeyman Craig Taylor continues to find the football regularly.

Playing Balaklava coach and state county cricketer Moss has kicked 56 majors and his side-kick Jason Mcpharlin has helped himself to 43.


Eastern Eyre

Second on the ladder at the end of the minor round – a half a game behind Eastern Rangers – Kimba Districts will be looking for a third successive premiership when they take on Aseri “Bobby” Raikiwasa’s Ports’ side this weekend.

These sides have faced off twice this year, with Kimba having a huge win in round two back in April, but the game was a lot closer in June, with the Tigers enjoying a 27-point win.

Former State country footballer and ’21 Mail Medalist Ryley Maitland has been impressive for the Kimba Tigers this year, while Joel Fitzgerald has kicked 65 goals across 10 appearances, and former Broughton Mundoora premiership player James Cant has returned to the club this year.

Cant, along with Ben Clements and Reece Rayson, have all stood up.

Former Central District big man Jesse Kemp won’t play for the Tigers because of a broken collar bone.

“Bobby” will be hoping for a big day up forward from Sidney Masters, who has kicked 53 majors in ’21, along with Alec Bryce, Todd Hoffmann and dual sporting talent Ayden Smith.

The Tigers will be favourites, but don’t count Ports out.

Ports’ Sid Masters playing for Eyre Peninsula. Photo: Peter Argent

Far West Football League

In the Far West title fight, the West Coast Hawks, who entered the reshaped competition this season, have dominated, winning 12 of their 13 games. They go into the Grand Final at Ceduna Oval as strong favourites against the Western United Football Club

Dylan Kelsh, his brother Rhys, Cameron Montgomerie and Indigenous Cody Colbung have produced strong and consistent seasons for the Hawks.

Former Port Adelaide Magpies footballer Mark “Froggy” Dolling has been a powerful avenue to goal, with 69 goals, while Colbung has been a strong ally, slotting through 52.

For the Tigers, Tyler Mahar, Jake Warmington, Jett Shipard, Todd Hoffrichter and young Harlee Chandler have been regular contributors across the winter.

Logan Elliott has kicked 36 goals for the Tigers, while Jay Polkinghorne (21) and Tom Woods (20) have chimed in as well.

The Hawks should be flying home with this flag, one suspects by a comfortable margin.


Hills Country

Kersbrook, coached by SA Football Hall of Famer Brett James, finished second after the minor round and go into this Saturday’s decider against Meadows as slight favourites.

Playing the season decider at their home ground Adelaide Retaining Walls Oval, the “Brook” has the class of Chris Lodovici in the middle, 195cm big man Jonathan Ross, who has kicked 42 goals up front and the tough as nails Aaron Killian in defence.

Both Paul James, at age 40, and Brad Pearce, 38, have also been contributors during the season and their experience may prove to be vital.

The Meadows Bulldogs have charged into the big dance from the Elimination Final and are looking for a fairytale finish.

They defeated Ironbank in the initial sudden death final by seven points, knocked over Gumeracha by 20 points in the first semi and then defeated the minor premiers Kangarilla by a handsome 40-point margin in the preliminary final.

Daniel Stock has kicked 42 goals this year for the Doggies, while Jacob Comley and Andrew Coombe

have both had an impact on the scoreboard at different times.

Key forward Coombe, who has previously been on the Double Blues senior squads has kicked seven goals in each of the first and preliminary finals.

Meadows’ strong-bodied midfielder Luke Watson is expected to be pivotal while Mark Thomas, returning after three years at Mount Barker, also is a strong presence around the contest.

Northern Areas

Led by playing coach Nick Hewett, the eldest of the four Hewett siblings, the Broughton Mundoora Eagles are looking for their third successive flag for the first time in club history.

After defeating Orroroo in a three-point thriller on second semi-final day, the Roos bounced back with an imposing 115-point win over the Booleroo Melrose Wilmington Lions in the preliminary final.

The Roos have brought former AFL listed players Nick Hombsch and Patrick McCarthy into their program, playing as key forwards and kicking 67 and 46 majors respectively, while local lad Luke Bowman, as a ruck/forward, has also slotted through 49.

The match ups through the middle are salivating, with Eagles options including Kane Bowley, former Mallee lad Rian Crane, Rowan Howett and Maddy Hayes. They will face up against veteran John Nicholas, Darren Hughes, marathon man Tom Moten and Henry Slade.

Will Hewett, who had a season at the Ponderosa, has proved to be a wonderful target in attack for the Eagles, kicking 70 goals.


Broughton Mundoora Eagles’ centre-half-back Tom Wheelen, centre-half forward Dylan DP Hewett and full forward Will Hewett at the Country Championships. Photo: Peter Argent

Riverland Football League

Minor premiers Waikerie Magpies, who dropped just one game for the season, take on the Remark Football Club for the 2021 A grade premiership in a Grand Final hosted by Loxton.

The Magpies have won each of their three minor round games against Renmark this year and easily accounted for the Loxton Tigers in the second semi-final, winning by 74 points.

Matthew Spencely has been outstanding for the Magpies this year, being in the best in eight of nine games he’s participated in.

Brendon Moon with 22 goals, Jack Burgemeister and Matthew Taylor have been among the form players for the Pies, with Jack Grieger hitting the scoreboard as well.

Renmark, who was the previous flag in 2019 will be looking for big things from leader Josh Vater, former West Adelaide player Jack Agostino, the Woolford lads Matthew and Tim, along with Fraser Sampson.

Tom Charlton, at 34 years of age, and Nathan Zunic, 31, are consistent avenues to goal for the Rovers.

The Magpies will be looking for a 16th premiership flag, while Renmark is undoubtedly keen to get its hands on a 21st RFL title.


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