HDFNL – First flag sought

EXPERIENCE: Leitchville/Gunbower’s Daniel Couwenberg – in action during the Bombers’ round 18 loss to North Bendigo – will provide assistance across the midfield.HISTORY beckons tomorrow for Leitchville/Gunbower and North Bendigo, with both sides vying to claim their first Heathcote District Football Netball League senior premiership.
Nanjing Night Net

The Bombers and Bulldogs have been the two form sides of the competition, thanks to pre-season recruiting and injury management.

Both sides lost a combined total of three games between them this season, with the Bombers’ sole loss coming to the Bulldogs in round 18.

Tomorrow’s match is the first time Leitchville/Gunbower has made the HDFNL grand final, with the Bulldogs losing to Lockington Bamawm United twice (2012 and 2014) and Colbinabbin (1998) in their past three grand final appearances.

Despite this, both teams boast plenty of premiership experience, thanks to their key recruits.

Leitchville/Gunbower’s Pascoe Vale contingent – consisting of Daniel Couwenberg, Daniel Meroli, Matt Perri and vice-captain, Steve Pretty – all played in an Essendon District Football League flag in 2011, with ruckman, Lee Pollock and midfielder Brendan Hancock tasting success with Golden Rivers Football League side Wakool in 2013.

A further 11 Bombers players were part of the club’s 2012 under 17 premiership, whilst numerous others have felt the pressure of playing in a grand final.

The Bulldogs boast plenty of grand final experience, thanks to their 2012 and 2014 efforts, whilst three key players have tasted premiership glory.

Key forwards Sam Barnes and Brady Herdman both played in Wedderburn’s North Central Football League four-peat between 2011 and 2014, with ruckman Troy Kelm guiding Kerang to Central Murray Football Netball League success in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

The battle between Kelm and Cam Ross – who will receive assistance from Pollock – will be pivotal to the result.

Whichever midfield combination controls proceedings will win the grand final. The Bombers will look to Couwenberg, Helman, Bart Walsh and Hancock – who has not played this season against the Bulldogs – to provide plenty of ball to their forwards, but Sean Morris and Jaran McKay will have other ideas

One player who will not take part for the Bulldogs is Michael Leech, who tore his he anterior cruciate ligament in last weekend’s preliminary final win against Colbinabbin. It is anticipated North Bendigo captain, Jordan Ford will take his place.

Bulldog utility, Alex Shipard will be best suited to run with dangerous Bomber forward, Matt Perri, with Darcy Richards to battle Jake Truefeldt.

As for the trio of Barnes, Herdman and Jeremy Mills, Bomber coach Matt Hawken will ask Hoby Bussey, Keiran Treacy and Pretty to work as a unit to prevent the Bulldogs from scoring as often as possible.

The other factor to this match will be the weather. With an expected maximum of temperature of 21 degrees, the fact the Bulldogs have played during every weekend of the finals will be a mitigating factor come the last quarter of tomorrow’s match.

PREDICTION: Leitchville/Gunbower will break its 20-year premiership drought with a 20-point victory.

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