Sport

PDFL | grand final | Waaia preview

By Alex Mitchell

It is the grand final the Picola District Football League season deserved — an all-star match-up between two powerful sides hungry to mark their near-perfect campaigns with some silverware.

While Strathmerton is heading to its sixth grand final in seven years, Waaia will square of with the Bulldogs for its first decider since 2015, and the Bombers are desperate to lift their first premiership since 2005.

Grand final heartbreak is something both sides have learned about in recent memory; the Bulldogs' five straight grand finals between 2013 and 2017 netted just the 2015 flag, while the Bombers have lost their three grand final trips since their last premiership, most recently a 58-point loss to Tungamah in the 2015 decider.

But that was then, and this is now; Waaia's season has been nothing short of superb, winning all but one of its games in dominant fashion and charging into the grand final with a 33-point preliminary final win against Deniliquin Rovers.

With the club's reserves also grand final-bound, coach Matt Brown said the weekend's Berrigan-hosted blockbuster could not come quickly enough.

"Obviously any club would love (having both sides in the grand final), and we're the lucky ones this year," Brown said.

"We've worked really hard for this opportunity, everyone needs a bit of luck with injuries, but it's huge for our club."

But the Bombers' lone loss for the year came against their grand final foe, the Bulldogs winning by 38 points in round eight.

"Strathy plays a pretty similar style to us, we match up well and it should be a very exciting game," Brown said.

"They're bloody good and beat us by six goals, so we've got some ground to make up. They've got a super midfield with Matt O'Kane, Lance Oswald and those guys, they set them up in the middle.

"You've got to limit them and then there's Adrian Crestani, Matt Shannon, Nathan McNair as three super intercept players. You can't be bombing it in against them because Crestani's intercept marking is exceptional."

The Bombers' list of key contributors is hard to narrow down; Ash Thompson brings superb form to the decider and finished second in the Pearce Medal count, Sam Richardson has been winning the ball for fun, Mitch Cleeland has compiled an unstoppable year as an intercept defender, while Charlie Burrows and Mark Meyland have each kicked 62 goals this season.

Legendary goal-kicker Meyland is the only player remaining from the 2005 grand final-winning side, and Brown's troops were desperate to create another generation of premiership players.

"It's been 14 years since we won a grand final, we've been there three times since and lost three, so everyone knows the heartache," Brown said.

"We've grown in the last two or three years in order to try and break the hoodoo. There's a super feeling heading into the weekend and the community is right behind us."