By Barry Gibson
All roads lead to Harrup Park for this Saturday’s AFL Mackay Grand Finals. In the men’s game reigning Premiers Whitsunday Sea Eagles will be up against the Eastern Swans in a historic night final, while in the women’s the Mackay Magpies will be up against the Bakers Creek Tigers.
After a tops- turvy season, the Swans Senior men’s team have hit form at the right time of the year, coming from the Elimination Final to secure the opportunity to dethrone the highly fancied Sea Eagles.
Swans Coach, George Hannaford, has done an almighty job in his first year at the helm. His role as both player and Coach on Saturday will be pivotal to his sides chances of securing a Premiership win. Along with Hannaford’s ball winning prowess, the Swans have plenty of talent at their disposal. They will look to rising stars Lachlan Clarke and Jack Ramsay, who has been a big contributor in his first season with the Swans, along with key forward Luke Ball and Kyle Shephard to give the Swans the grunt needed to get across the line.
The Sea Eagles are a polished outfit and Coach Luke Somerville will be looking to steer his boys to back to back Premierships. The Airlie Beach based team have bevy of match winners, with leading goal kicker Regan Williams being a consistent focal point all season, whilst Jake Hare, Brodie Topham and Ryan Lee have all had a stellar year and if allowed room to run free could inflict some serious damage on the scoreboard.
Both teams have forwards capable of kicking a winning score, so it could would well come down to which midfield can win more of the footy, likewise which team can adapt to the night time conditions. Augurs well for a cracking game of footy.
This year’s women’s Grand Final has had a twist already, with home and away ladder leaders North Mackay not featuring. The Saints were bundled out in straight sets, leaving the Tigers and Magpies vying for the title.
Both teams boast a group of emerging stars, with numerous Gold Coast Suns Academy players shared across both teams.
The Tigers will look to the likes of League leading goal kicker Megan Ellard to help kick a winning score and she will have plenty of support from Madison MacDonald, Imogen Healy and the exciting Jourdain Tapim. Tigers Coach Ian Rix will know the need to gain the early ascendency, as their opponents are coming into the game full of confidence.
The Magpies are a well-balanced team, with quality players across every line. Exciting youngsters Lily Tarlinton and Brooke Rowlands will need to play key roles for the Maggies to get the win and they will be supported by last week’s standout performer, Wallis Randell.
Magpies Coach Jason Holmes will look to capitalise on his team’s rich vein of form, having come from third spot to qualify for the penultimate match. Holmes will be keen to get some early scoreboard pressure and put the onus back on the Tigers to respond. This could well be the closest game of the day with both teams evenly matched.
In the men’s Reserves match the top two teams at the end of the regular season will battle it out, with the Eastern Swans up against the Minor Premiers, Mackay City Hawks. The Hawks will look to bounce back against the Swans who won the Semi-Final encounter with a kick after the siren, whilst the boys in red and white will be looking to set the winning tone for their Senior men.
In other games, Bakers Creek will take on Whitsunday in the U/17’s, whilst North Mackay and Moranbah will be pitted again each other in both the Under 14’s and Under 12’s.
The action starts at 10.00am with the Under 12’s, the Senior Women’s at 2:50pm, culminating in the Senior game at 6.30pm. Entry is $5 per adult with Under 18’s free.