GRFL – Improving sides to meet

FRONT-RUNNER. Quambatook’s Tim McIntosh is one of many Saints players who need to see plenty of the ball during tomorrow’s preliminary final against Hay.TWO of the Golden Rivers Football League’s most improved teams of season 2015 – Quambatook and Hay – are one win away from making the competition’s grand final.
Nanjing Night Net

The Saints and Lions will clash in tomorrow’s preliminary final at Moulamein, with the match tipped to be one of the games of the season.

Quambatook lost last Saturday’s second semi-final to Ultima, whist the Lions’ 22-point first semi-final win was the club’s first victory against Nullawil in more than a decade.

Steve Reeves’ men will have learnt plenty from last weekend’s loss to the ‘Roos. The Saints were second to the ball when it mattered and its potent forward line – consisting of Jake Rennie, Andrew Spengler, Tim McIntosh and Ricky Jochinke – was kept quiet.

Things will be just as difficult tomorrow. The return of Jackson Ferguson on Sunday helped the Lions win their first semi-final, and his battle with Jochinke across the half-forward line will shape tomorrow’s result.

Mitch Busch will go to Spengler, with Gardean Ellis to rotate in the ruck with Justin Ellis when he is not battling Rennie.

Hay also has a potent forward line, evident last weekend with Daniel Gash’s four-goal effort.

The Wedderburn premiership player has the ability to step up on the big stage, and his battle with Jack Baker will be another key match-up.

Daniel Edwards can crumb the ball in the Lions’ forward 50, but will have a challenge to get the ball against Luke Parker.

However, it will be in the middle of the ground where this match will be won or lost.

David Fevaleaki is proving to be one of the recruits of the season, with the former Bendigo Pioneers player providing strength and speed in the midfield.

Saints captain, Gregor Knight will take on Fevaleaki, with Brodie Bennett to battle Lions coach, Simon Bunyan.

James Steinfort will battle both Justin and Gardean Ellis in the ruck, but will receive assistance from Jochinke when needed.

These sides have a 1-1 record against each other this season. The Lions prevailed at home by 26 points in round two, with the Saints recording a five-point win in round 12.

Finals experience – as well as an extra day’s break – gives the Saints a slight edge, but the Lions showed last weekend that anything can happen in the finals.

PREDICTION: Quambatook will hold on for a 12-point win.

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