Grand Final Fever: Country footy grand final previews – week 2

Captain Tyson Irlam celebrates a Willaston goal from the round 12 clash against South Gawler. Photo: Peter Argent

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By Peter Argent

Barossa, Light and Gawler Football Assoc.

A promoters dream, the barnstorming Willaston Donnybrooks will take on cross-bridge rivals South Gawler in this weekend’s 2021 BLG Grand Final on home soil.

The Dons, coached by SA Football Hall of Famer Andrew Jarman, only secured their spot in the major round after defeating Freeling in the final home and away game, also relying on losses by Kapunda and Angaston.

They defeated a star-studded Tanunda side and an injury ravaged Nuriootpa to make the big dance, with the likes of Isaya McKenzie, Michael Clinch, skipper Tyson Irlam, recruit Oli Petroholis and Schluter Medallist Harry Elbrow in strong form.

South, coached by Gavin Chaplin, has been the team to beat all season with Indigenous talent Josh Wittwer, defender Pat White, Jackson Press and evergreen veteran Dean Cutting up forward being keys across an impressive year.

They famously last faced off in a Grand Final back in 1980, in the old Gawler and Districts competition.

South are looking for its first flag since 1993, while Willaston are endeavouring to break a 22-year drought that goes back to 1999.

South Gawler’s Jackson Dare being chased by Willaston’s Josh Waldhuter. Photo: Peter Argent

North Eastern Football League

Finishing second by only a small percentage at the end of the minor round, the Brinkworth-Redhill-Spalding (BSR) Tigers take on the RSMU Hawks in the NEFL title fight at Eudunda Oval this week.

Across the past five years, BSR have been the competition yardstick, winning the title in 2017, 2018 and again last year, with this being the club’s fifth successive Grand Final.

Luke Hayes, the young brother of Eagles 2020 premiers duo Nick and Jack, is a key component for the Tigers who go into the season decider as hot favourites.

Luke, along with young forward Isaac Moller, former Sacred Heart College football and cricket captain Jack Haarsma, Josh Slade and the 2021 Mail Medallist Matthew Longbottom, are all expected to play significant roles for the Tigers.

RSMU, the underdogs in the preliminary final against fellow Light District Council team, the Southern Saints, had a morale-boosting 10-point win to make the grand final, led by Levi Krause as playing coach.

Ruckman Justin Schahinger, who had a short stint at North Adelaide, 2006 SANFL Eagles premiership full back Zack Hier, Harrison Slee, Micah Vanloon, defender Nick Jordan, Patrick Clark, small former Central District player Sam Milne and Max Connell will all need to be at the top of their games to test the Tigers.


Great Flinders Football League

At Tumby Bay Oval, the undefeated Cummins Kapinnie Cougars take on United Yeelanna for the 2021 Great Flinders crown.

Former Central District and Power listed player Johann Wagner has returned to his foundation club this year and is currently sitting on 97 goals as the Cougars enter the decider.

For the Cummins Kappinie side, Lochie Paech has also produced an outstanding season, while the experienced Bradley Hazelgrove, Brodie Falciani, Dylan Wandner, Joshua Horgan and Flynn Paech are all capable of having an impact.

United Yeelanna, who have played in every GFFL Grand Final since 2014 and collected five flags in this time, certainly know how to win on the final day of the season.

For the Eagles, former Central District premiership player Daniel Havelberg kicked five goals in the preliminary final. They have a myriad of experienced finals campaigners including the Crettenden crew – Matthew, Michael, Stephen and Jack – along with Casey Carr, Jaxen Norton, Isaiah Wilksch and Bryce Breed.


Casey Carr will be playing for United Yeelanna on Saturday in another Grand Final. Photo: Peter Argent

Hills Football League

Undefeated this season, the Hahndorf Magpies go into the grand final clash as heavy favourites.

Facing Uraidla Districts, which has played all four weeks of the major round, the Magpies have a heap of experience, including former Crow Kyle Cheney, Eagles champion and Adelaide player Jared Petrenko, who has kicked 41 goals this year, Sam Williams and Sam Hayden, all of whom have produced steady seasons. Ben Salt has chimed in with 32 goals, while Luke Roberts has 27 to his name and former South Adelaide league footballer Rigby Barnes displayed outstanding late-season form.

While the Magpies’ second semi-final win was only by 10 points in a low-scoring affair, they averaged 113.5 points for and a miserly 38 points against during the regular season.

For the underdogs, Nathan Remnant has been impressive, while 2012 Jack Oatey Medallist Dean Terlich has kicked 33 goals whilst coaching the Demons.

To cause an upset, they will need solid performances from Nick Amato, Angus Clarke, Luke Thomas and Cooper Spry.


In what has been a tight Kowree-Naracoorte Tatiara Football league competition this year, Padthaway gained the week’s rest after a second semi-final win. They now face off against the Mundulla Tigers, who got over Keith by a straight kick in last Saturday’s preliminary final.

In a game that could go either way, the Lions’ Thomas Edwards and former Glenelg junior Archie Longbottom have had outstanding seasons, while former Power listed Indigenous talent Tobin Cox has dominated up forward with a competition best 68 goals. Joshua Vandermeer has proved to be a valuable ally for Cox with 44 majors this season.

All round sporting talent Jake McGrice, former PAC student Nick Mosey and Tom Perry have led the way for the Mundulla Tigers this year, with James Hinge and Will Nankivell kicking 33 and 30 goals respectively.

Mid South East Football League

To be played at Tantanoola Oval, the Port MacDonnell Demons will meet the minor premiers, Ben Mules’ Kalangadoo Magpies, in the 2021 MSE Grand Final.

For the Dees, Dylan Bromley and the athletic big man, Tim Sullivan, produced great seasons, while Daron Mcelroy, Mark Smith and, with 50 goals, Kevin Thomson, have all been consistent.

The Magpies, who endured their first loss for 2021 on second semi-final day at Glencoe Oval by 11 points, were able to bounce back with a 27-point win over Hatherleigh in the preliminary final.

Andrew Stone, Lachy Jones, Mitchel Lowe and Tye Mcmanus are among the lynch-pins for the Magpies, while former Glenelg skipper Ben Mules knows how to stand up when it counts.

Michael Krieger has kicked 70 goals this winter for the Magpies and they have another four players who have slotted through 20 of more majors.

Kalangadoo won by just nine points in the season opener, then got up by 27 points in round 11 at home, so this could go either way!

Port Lincoln Football League

Undefeated across their 2021 campaign, the Marble Range Football Club gained direct entry to the season decider at Port Lincoln’s Centenary Park Oval and will take on the Waybacks Football Club.

Marble Range is blessed with an array of talent, including 2021 Mail Medallist Jordan Clements, who also enjoyed success at Mallala, Daniel Minney, Jaxon Bennett and Tynan Keeley, who has kicked 69 goals this season.

Dual Sturt premiership centre half forward Kory Beard is another high profile player in the Marble Ranger jumper.

Waybacks will need to rely of the experience of Xavier Watson, who enjoyed a lot of success in the Great Flinders competition, along with fellow State country player of previous years Shaun Maxfield, Jonty Seal who has kicked 65 goals this season, Sam Heinjus, along with Ben and Beau Sampson.

River Murray Football League

Second behind Tailem Bend on percentage at the end of the minor round, the Jervois Bluds will take on Imperials in the Grand Final at Mypolonga Oval this year.

Former Glenelg 2019 premiership forward Josh Scott is perched on 98 goals as Jervois enters the season decider after an outstanding season, while Adam Diamond, Tony Gibson, Michael Pope and Josh Woodall have all been strong contributors this season.

Starting their finals campaign in the Elimination Final, the Imperials have enjoyed wins over Ramblers, Mannum and then Tailem Bend in the Preliminary Final by just seven points to book a place in the grand final.

The inaugural Tony Modra leading goalkicker award winner, Johnny Boras, should be a big key for “Imps” in the clash, having kicked 123 goals so far this year. Harley Montgomery has delivered an outstanding season, while the experience of State country footballer and cricketer Luke Harrowfield and former North Melbourne and Sturt player Scott McMahon will be invaluable.

Southern Football League

At Flinders University Stadium (Noarlunga), Flagstaff Hill and Morphett Vale play off for the 2021 Southern League crown.

Flaggies have taken all before them this year, winning every one of their 14 minor round matches and demolishing the Reynella Wineflies in the second semi-final by 86 points.

The Falcons have the class of Samuel Tharaldsen, along with Mitchell Johnson and Bradley Patterson, who have enjoyed stellar seasons.

When you throw in talent like young tall Tynan Carney, Bradley Kirk, Chris Puiatti and Brayden Heyward-Ferors, they are a potent unit as they aim for their sixth consecutive premiership title.

Both Ryan Mountford and Daniel Butcher have kicked 44 goals for Flaggies, while Daniel Webb has chimed in with 26 from nine games.

The Emu’s will need form players Daniel Bode, Aiden Baker and Bodie Sowter to lead the way if they are to create an upset. Veteran Denis Iljcesen has slotted through 43 goals for Morphett Vale this season. Another positive for the Emu’s is that they are on a winning streak. They started the major round in the elimination final, defeating the Noarlunga Shoes, Happy Valley and the Wineflies on the road to this big challenge against the Falcons.

Yorke Peninsula Football League

Playing on the large expanse of the Yorketown Oval, the Moonta Demons, with a host of experienced footballers, will go in as favourites against the CMS Crows in the Yorke Peninsula grand final.

The breadth of talent in the Demons’ side includes the silky Malcolm Karpany and Port Adelaide Magpies SANFL-listed players Dylan Aldridge and Matt Appleton. Local stars Dylan Mansell and Tyler Andrews, Aidan Turner, the athletic Kieran Yakas, Matt Altmann, who played in the Broughton Mundoora Eagles’ 2020 premiership team, and Sam Watson, are just some of their other talents.

The Crows are not without a chance though, with 2021 Mail Medalist Murphy Short having a brilliant season in the pivot, and the mercurial James Moss being a wonderful target at full forward.

Ben Edwards, who played SANFL league footy at Alberton, is an important component for the Crows’ chances, and they will need big efforts from Josh Hoyle, Lachie Pointon, young talent Shaun Mcneilly and veteran Adam Jolly.

CMS Crows’ and Mail Medalist Murphy Short. Photo: Peter Argent

Great Southern Football League

Two of the big guns of Great Southern Football, Langhorne Creek and the Willunga Demons will face of at Yankalilla Oval in the Great Southern decider.

The Langhorne Creek Hawks are looking for a fourth successful title on Saturday, with Curtis Perrey as skipper. The Hawks are coached by former Adelaide, Melbourne Demons and Glenelg SANFL player James Sellar.

Experienced SA country footballers Tom Derham and Jarrod Kellock are key components, along with former Crystal Brook Rooster Ben Arbon who will be looking to continue his stellar flag-winning run.

Quicksilver wingman Troy Blackwell is another one to watch for the Hawks.

Willunga veterans Marcus Burdett, past Mail Medallist Shaun Beath, Cameron Hutchens, former SA Country captain Brian Fenton and veteran big-man Bradley Haskett are all expected to be prime movers for the Demons.

Whyalla Football League

Weeroona Bay, who finished second at the end of the minor round and two games behind West Whyalla, will take on Central Whyalla at Bennett Oval this Saturday for the Whyalla FL crown.

The Weeroona Tigers had a massive 66-point win over the ladder leaders in the second semi, while the Roosters accounted for North, and then West by 26 points, in their first two finals.

Weeroona Bay has won all three encounters against the Roosters this season, although the first was only by three points.

Aaron Rogers has been outstanding for the Tigers, while Lee Ringland has kicked 55 goals.

Others to keep an eye on include Remy Starkey, Max Zbierski and Steve Jackson.

The Roosters have been well-served this year by Samuel Ellis, Lachie and Marko Tansell, along with Clifford Pickhaver-Tupe, Brayden Woolford and Jacki Taylor.

Big Scott Collison and Matthew Woolford have booted 82 majors between them.

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