By Brenton Mann: @BrentyMann
Old Paradians booked their spot in this week’s grand final against Ivanhoe with a stirring, 30-point, come-from-behind win over St John’s at Aquinas College. An unlikely outcome for many outsiders, the win sees Parade gain a well-deserved promotion into Division 1 in 2016. Trailing by 25 points at quarter-time, the Raiders found themselves in a precarious position, and responded in fine-style. Coming off their gritty elimination final victory over Northern Blues, Parade bottled the momentum gained and took it into last week. The momentum swayed with howling gale, and the team that made the most of the breeze and more importantly, kicked goals against it, fared the better. St John’s made full use of it in the first but unfortunately for the JOCs, that’s where the good news stopped. The Raiders sprung to life in the second term and swung the momentum in their favour. They slammed on six-goals-to-nil and converted a 35-point deficit into a seven-point lead. Parade is renowned for the ability to restrict sides scoring and capitalising with attacking efficiency. These trademarks are what got them into the preliminary final and now into the grand final. The Raiders may have entered this finals series in scratchy form, but they surely saved their best until last. St John’s to their credit mounted a third quarter challenge, but inaccuracy and a lack of structure inside-50 didn’t allow them to take full advantage. Parade managed two goals against the breeze, which were like gold. The JOCs spent their petrol tickets in the third and the Raiders put their foot down in the last to secure a memorable win. It’s a great fillip for a club that’s struggled to find the form and consistency over the past three years to mount any serious challenge. After being bundled out of last year’s finals series by Eltham without a whimper, this year the Raiders found a steely resolve that will hold them in good stead. St John’s exit the year in far less glory than it began. The JOCs started the year with dash and vigour and an unwavering hunger. After an 8–0 start to the year, the JOCs were hit by the injury stick and struggled thereafter to field their best team and unfortunately, it signalled their downfall. Finals are won with continuity in personnel, game plan and performance, and St John’s simply were too inconsistent in all three.
2015 SEN GRAND FINAL PREVIEW:
IVANHOE v OLD PARADIANS @ HIGHGATE RESERVE, CRAGIEBURN
For Parade, Ivanhoe offers a far greater challenge. The Hoes are a different beast. The Raiders have failed in both their encounters this season, by an average losing margin of 20 points. After burying its 2014 demons at Highgate Reserve with their elimination final win over Northern Blues, the venue holds no fear for the Raiders. Ivanhoe has taken its show on the road and succeeded for the majority of the year, and simply fear no one. Paul Harris & Co. have done a remarkable job in preparing the Hoes for a legitimate premiership tilt and have one more hurdle to overcome. Ivanhoe play a systemic and structured style that has held them in excellent stead this year, and has proven extremely hard to combat. Their ability to remain staunch in their game style is a major strength, but it can be exploited. Parade plays a highly contested game, with plenty of numbers around the ball and they have the capacity to grind sides down. In their last defeat, which was only their second loss this year, to Melbourne High, Ivanhoe failed to win the footy at the coalface and were beaten in a dogfight. This should be the template for the Raiders. Parade’s bigger bodied midfielders will relish the congestion, and the Raiders possess enough match-winners up forward to capitalise on minimal opportunities. Ivanhoe generates the majority of their scores from behind centre and rely on thwarting opposition’s attacking chains and then burning them on the rebound. The vast expanses of Highgate Reserve will favour the Hoes ability to switch the ball laterally from their back half and attack through the wings. Parade must engage Ivanhoe’s defenders and not allow them to guard space and intercept at will. Parade’s pressure inside-50 must be manic and lock the ball in their forward half for as long as possible. At the other end of the ground, Parade’s back six will have its hands full. Ivanhoe gun-forwards in Mitch Lovell, Reuben Blackmoore-Moore and Justin Harty are dynamic and elusive and are in red-hot form. Like most games, the key to victory lies with the side that can win the ball, control it and force opposition turnovers and capitalise. Simply, control the ball when you have it, and fight like hell to win it back when you don’t. I believe that Ivanhoe will withstand the inevitable Paradian pressure and hold their nerve to take out their first senior premiership since 1969.
IVANHOE v OLD PARADIANS CLASHES IN 2015
Round 7: Old Paradians 8.8 (56) defeated by Ivanhoe 11.16 (82)
Round 14: Ivanhoe 10.8 (68) defeated Old Paradians 7.13 (55)
Grand Final Tip
Ivanhoe vs Old Paradians