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West hungry for the win

Saturday, 7th September, 2019

West captain Indianna Paull (centre) with South co-captains Sarah Gillespie (left) and Shae Nevill. PICTURE: Andrew Gosling West captain Indianna Paull (centre) with South co-captains Sarah Gillespie (left) and Shae Nevill. PICTURE: Andrew Gosling

By Emily Ferguson

South are aiming for their third women’s premiership while the Westies are hungry for their first flag, as these two top tier teams do battle in today’s grand final. 

West made it to the grand final as minor premiers after success in the minor rounds, with South winning their way through after a comfortable 14 point win over North in the preliminary final. 

West will be taking the field for their first grand final appearance in the competition’s short history, having only played in a preliminary final in the inaugural season. South, however, come into today’s game having participated in numerous finals and playing in the big dance for consecutive years since 2015, with success in 2016 and 2017. 

These two teams have been well matched this season, with their previous games results sitting at two apiece and one draw. Their first meeting in round three saw South prevail 33 to 28, in round six the teams drew before round 9 when West ran out winners by twenty points, 35 to 15. Round 12 South won the contest, 32 to 27, while the last minor round saw West come out on top 20 to 17. 

West were well represented in the AFL Broken Hill Team of the year with 9 players named, captain Indianna Paull, Paige Cuy, Erin Buttriss, Amber Evans, Phoebe Knell, Paris Barrett and Kayla Williams. South had five players selected in the team, Melisa Keenan, Eliza Cumming, Abbey Stevens, Sarah Burns and co-captain Shae Nevill. These are the players who will no doubt stand up for their respective teams and have quite an impact on the game. 

South coach Michael Bird said this year has been an excellent season across the competition with all four clubs proving competitive and he is happy with his team’s performance over the season, “My girls have actually been a mixed bag this year but when we get our best girls on the oval it seems to come together so it’s been a very good year in that respect.”

Souths preparation for the grand final has been focused on the mental aspect, ensuring they don’t overthink it and play the game in their heads before they actually play on Saturday. Bird said the team’s final training gave off a good vibe about how the team is feeling heading into the grand final, he said they trained well and are partaking in some team bonding ahead of Saturday. 

South’s only strategy heading into the game is to simply kick more goals than the opposition. In order to win, Bird said South need to take their opportunities and adapt to the weather, “In women’s footy, if you get the opportunity to get it inside your fifty you need to score... all year it’s been windy conditions and I think Saturday will be exactly the same.”

Bird believes that his team’s previous finals experience will be an advantage, “For a lot of these girls this will be their fifth grand final in a row, they should know what to expect come Saturday,” he said. “I know there might be a few of the West girls who have played for other teams in finals, but as a team West haven’t played in a grand final, so it’ll have to be a little advantage for us.”

Bird is certain the grand final will be a good one, with the teams both having a vast spread of talented players, “It’s going to be a very good game, we’re two all West have beaten us twice, we’ve beaten them twice and we had a controversial draw.” He believes the outcome will depend on which team’s second tier players stand up for the occasion. 

West coach Nathan Pearce is very impressed with his side’s improvement and overall performance this season, “We started back in January with a goal to improve and at least make finals, so probably four games in we realised that we probably improved a lot more than what we originally thought.”

With their improvement Pearce said they decided to reassess their goals moving forward and aim higher for a spot in the grand final, which they have achieved just by running onto the field today. “I’m a big believer of a positive attitude, commitment and planning, if we’ve got those three things all together we’ve got a good chance of achieving our goals and I think we done that really well.”

Pearce said the West women earning their spot in the grand final is a testament to their hard work, “We’re seven years into the women’s comp where the west women have only played in one final let alone a grand final, so we’ll just enjoy it and whatever happens happens,” he said. “But this is just a starting point for us, we’re obviously concentrating on this game this weekend but also knowing what our future looks like going into 2020.”

In terms of preparation, West have prepared as they would for any other game, “In a four team comp you get to play each other enough and try some things especially in those last two games, we’ve looked at some things South have tried... but it doesn’t change our structure or strategies,” said Pearce. “We have a system that we believe if played right it stacks up against anyone, which we’ve proved throughout the season.”

Pearce believes his team can win if they continue the way they have for most of the season, “If we go out there with a positive attitude and we’re committed to our game plan then we’ll go a good way to win the game,” he said. 

Pearce said they are hoping to learn from the club’s other teams performances in recent finals and not waste opportunities, “If you don’t take your opportunities when they’re there to take and if you come out slow and unprepared you can lose a game of footy,” he said. “For us this weekend, whether it’s the women or the reserve grade I think that’s the main thing, coming out nice, fresh and positive and taking opportunities when they arise.”

This grand final will undoubtedly be a great display of the immense talent within the local women’s competition and both teams will come out eager for a win which will make for a fantastic game of football. Get down to the Jubilee Oval at 11am to watch these two great teams battle for the premiership cup. 

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