AFL HCC Grand Final Day Previews
Written By David Redden
AFL HCC HAVAL Black Diamond Cup Grand Final, Terrigal Avoca vs Newcastle City, 2.30pm.
The AFLHCC version of the Old Firm Derby, the two dominant sides of a generation meet for the second successive year in the Big Dance.
Both teams will be well rested after playing in the last 21 days.
How do Terrigal Avoca win:
- Their back six/seven/eight shut down City and launch attacking raids off half-back. The Panthers superb defence is what Chris Bishop has instilled across all of their three grades, and if Flint, Delahunty, Bond, Jayson Van Dam, Hart and McKellar are allowed to create third man in contests, City are in for a long day.
- Control Conor Haswell. Haswell, one of the top three players in the League, was the catalyst for City’s 2018 come from behind Grand Final win when he moved to half forward. Haswell kicked a couple of goals last week as City woke from a two and half game slumber to come from behind to beat Cardiff. Haswell’s brilliant delivery and aerial skills are damaging and Bishop will have put a lot of though into controlling the League representative star.
- Goals from the midfield. Fleming, Grimmond, Ellis, Billins, Bishop himself and Creswell all rotate through the midfield and provide crucial goal-scoring options for Terrigal Avoca if Thomas and Pete Van Dam are kept quiet.
- Keep the foot down, at all times. Complacency won’t be a problem, not after last year. If the Panthers get a sniff, watch them hunt in packs and build early scoreboard pressure.
- Discipline. 50m penalties are deadly at the relatively short No.1 Sportsground. No dissent, efficiency on the mark and awareness at all times are very important here. Same old, same old for this vastly experienced outfit.
How do Newcastle City win:
- They must score at least 80 points. In a low-scoring League, kicking a minimum 12.8 means Terrigal Avoca can’t flood the backline all day. Keast, Haswell, the midfield and, importantly, Crawford must all contribute on the scoreboard. Watch for City to push Durbridge into goal scoring range to add another option.
- The veteran Knight has to have a big game. The Diesel engine in City’s outfit, Knight v Bishop will be worth the price of admission alone. If Knight has a big day, City will be very hard to stop.
- O’Malley gets a minimum 25 possessions. The ultimate utility player, O’Malley has to negate Fleming, Grimmond and Billins. O’Malley won’t put up with Billins if the abrasive Panther goes the niggle, as he did with some success against Singleton last week.
- Get the ball to Haswell, often.
- Keast gets his midfield and crumbing forwards quality ball. Highly rated in his own club, the big man has a huge job, especially down forward, where he may have company from Jayson Van Dam.
- Baker steers the ship. It’s inconceivable that Bishop will let Baker quarterback City run alone and unattended. Who wins this battle has one hand on the Black Diamond Cup.
AFLHCC HUNTER HAVAL Womens Grand Final, Newcastle City v Maitland, 11.50am
Perennial Grand Finallists City have the uncanny habit of coming good at exactly the right time of the year. Eliminating minor premiers Killarney Vale, at Adelaide St, has the Blues cherry ripe for another flag.
Watch for Meaghan MacDonald, kept quiet last week, to explode this week on her home deck. Her combination with Sarah Halvorsen and Molly Simpson is a huge challenge for the Saints, especially if they get quality ball from ruck duo Anna Ralston and Kirsty Ferguson.
Casey Eacott and Caitlin Holcombe were outstanding last week in the back six, and they will have their hands full with the Jessie Burnham/Sarah Burns attacking duo.
The Saints, who won a thriller last week against bogey side Wyong Lakes, need a massive performance from Sarah James if they are to raise the trophy for the first time. Maitland has been wonderfully consistent all year, don’t depend on too many individuals and their defence has been exceptional.
The big question in this one is: will City be able to repeat their performance of last week, or can Maitland kick early goals to put the Blues under enormous pressure? Burns must, repeat must, kick goals if the Saints are to win. She is very good in the air and very handy at ground level; Holcombe may get first crack at negating her influence.
AFLHCC HAVAL Black Diamond Plate Grand Final, Terrigal Avoca v TEBB, 9.30am
The Entrance Bateau Bay (TEBB) have done more kilometres than Burke & Wills over the past month, playing consecutive games at Maitland, Muswellbrook, Muswellbrook again and Singleton to get into the Grand Final from third place.
TEBB produced a huge upset to convincingly defeat Newcastle City last week, and have to dig very deep if they are to upset a Terrigal Avoca side that hasn’t been beaten in two full seasons.
Terrigal Avoca, a side full of Cup experience, will go about their duties in a quiet, unfussed, disciplined and ruthless fashion. If TEBB lets them go about their normal business, the Panthers are 6-goal favourites.
However, TEBB, known for physical, niggly, tough and uncompromising play, will know that they need to put the Panthers off their game if they are to produce a monumental upset. Make no mistake, TEBB deserve to be in the Grand Final, and they’ve won here before. Terrigal Avoca will be ready for anything, expect a fiery first quarter and lots of hard-ball one-on-one contests.