Under 19 Premier Finals: Week 1 Preview

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By Ray Leetham

After round six of the normal season the top four sides were as they are now so not much has changed except the finishing order .The overall winner is hard to pick but St Bernard’s and St Kevin’s have a small edge on the others. In a motor vehicle comparison St Bernard’s are hard, versatile and handy in all conditions, St Kevin’s flashy and capable, Old Xavs reliable and can do the job, while Beaumaris are zippy in heavy traffic. This week is a shoot out for two sides –St Kevin’s and Beaumaris- while Bernard’s and Xavs get another chance.

1st Semi Final St.Kevins v Beaumaris

This is a great start to the finals series. Remember that the Skobbers finished third on percentage only and could have been in the second semi. Both teams are full of talent and it will be a great contest. Beaumaris have been great in the last few rounds whereas the Skobbers will be disappointed at not having the double chance but they might not need it. If they are on the money and get drive from Stagg, Brookes, Sist and Tobin they will cover Beaumaris and get ready for the Prelim. Beauy need Taylor, Lucas ,Johns and Zagni to play the way they have in the last few rounds to have any chance. Skobbers coaches Purcell and Kennedy are masters at finals footy so they will have the board changing every few minutes while Beaumaris need to change some aspect of their game plan to win this one. Coach Terry Lucas knows the odds are against him but don’t write him off yet. St Kevin’s play well at all venues and Beaumaris play on a massive paddock so look for lots of run and carry from both sides.

Prediction- St Kevin’s by 30 points

2nd Semi Final – St Bernard’s v Old Xavs

Same time different year –same teams ! This is a clash of the competition heavyweights. The Bernard’s love finals action whereas the Xavs have come log quietly but they are on the main stage. Can they go straight in ? I’m not sure… If the Xavs have a chance it’s with Cleeve, Tiobin, Morris and Amad-if they fire they should get up. The Bernards love finals footy and always play well when the pressure is on. The  Bernards game plan is led by Kennedy, Madden, Delzoppo and O’Halloran. If they play up to their ability then they will bring home the chocolates. Bernards coach Rocky Ianello is always ready for finals action and his coaching has won many previous finals whereas the Xavs can play but coach Callinan may be tested in this one. To win the Xavs need to get outside their comfort zone.

Prediction- St.Bernard’s by 17 points

SECTION 2 UNDER 19

1st Semi Final – Fitzroy v Caulfield Grammar

This is a classic final as Caulfield is flying ! Early in the season Caulfield was on the bottom of the ladder but coach McCann has brought them along nicely. He may have added some school faces since the early rounds and it has worked beautifully. Fitzroy has the job in front of them but will have a real crack. The Fitzroy coaching team has had plenty of experience but the Fields have all the answers to all of the questions the Roy boys will present. If Fitzroy is a chance their main group including Laidlaw, Darby, Ryan and Long must be first to the ball and use it well. Caulfield will look to Topp, Stephenson, Wigney and Silvestro to set the tone and make their stamp on the game. Who ever gets the early break will win this game. I am a big fan of inform sides at this time of the year.

Prediction – Caulfield by 23 points

2nd Semi Final – Parkdale v Old Brighton

Parkdale and Old Brighton have been the dream sides of the competition all season but I still have time for Caulfield as recent winning form is worth gold come finals time. Over the last few games Parkdale has had massive drive from Dillon, Rendell, Jayaselan and Peake. Can they handle the pressure of the finals ? Time will tell. Old Brighton has a solid game plan based around the likes of Hamilton, Harris, Armstrong and Garner. Their quick ball movement could be the difference.

Parkdale coach Luke Borella has done a great job this season but it is not over yet and the coaching experience of Old Brighton’s Ryan Joseph could be the difference. Finals are another mountain to be climbed before the premiership cup is raised and many a player has played the game before it happens and this can take the bite out of the game.

Perfect conditions make this a great contest.

Prediction- Parkdale by 17 points