Sport

MFL preliminary final preview - Numurkah v Tongala

By Tyler Maher

Barooga Recreation Reserve will be awash with blue tomorrow as Numurkah and Tongala supporters descend on the Murray Football League venue.

On the line for both sides in the preliminary final is a grand final berth at Finley Recreation Reserve and the action is sure to be fierce.

Both outfits pride themselves on their dominance in the contested possessions stakes, meaning whichever team can make the most of disposals on the outside will likely take control of the clash.

Numurkah is refreshed following a week off after a qualifying final win against Echuca United, but will not rest on its laurels heading into at least the penultimate weekend of a third season in a row.

"It's been a really great buzz around the footy club with us and our juniors in as well," Numurkah co-coach Jye Warren said.

"But, as a playing group we're pretty relaxed, there's a lot of nervous energy and excitement among the younger guys but most of them have experienced a preliminary final before.

"It was a good break but we haven't rested, we've still trained hard.

"We went and watched the game last week to make sure everyone knew who they might play on and what the individual strengths and weaknesses of their opponent are.

"Tonny are really physical in the midfield and that will match up well with us."

Last time the Blues clashed was in round two - in which Numurkah won by 42 points - but Warren's troops will take little out of that win.

"We've improved a hell of a lot since the start of the year," Warren said.

"Youth and speed is where we believe we can possibly stretch Tonny on the weekend in what will be dry conditions by the looks of it.

"We're really looking forward to it, it should be a ripping contest, they're a quality side and we're both small communities with plenty of support."

Ruckman Michael Griffiths will return for Numurkah tomorrow, with Flynn Beitzel the unlucky player squeezed out.

Tongala fought its way through a tough semi-final against Mulwala and was excited to take on fellow Blues Numurkah.

"They're a bit of our rivals," Tongala coach Jordan Souter said.

"We respect them highly and went and watched them (in the qualifying final), they're a really quality side so we're going to have to play our best footy."

After tasting finals action for the first time since 2015 this season - now sitting just one win away from a grand final - Souter's charges continue to pinch themselves.

"It's a bit surreal at the moment, we're one win off a grand final coming off 18 months ago we were lucky to fill two sides," he said.

"So from the the club's point of view and all the helpers that have chipped in it's a credit to the club and I think we're heading in the right direction.

"That was mine and the president's role when we took over (to take the club to finals).

"We'll be proud to make the prelim but now we're there we don't want to just finish at the prelim, we want to make the granny and you never know what can happen once you get in there.

"It is going to be tough, all prelims are tough, so we'll work hard on our match ups and that and hopefully we can get it right as coaches.

"We're up and about so hopefully we can keep it going."

MURRAY FOOTBALL LEAGUE PRELIMINARY FINALS

Today at Katandra Recreation Reserve

Under-14: Echuca United v Deniliquin at 9.15 am

Under-17: Echuca United v Cobram at 10.45 am

Reserves: Echuca United v Rumbalara at 12.20 pm

Seniors: Nathalia v Congupna at 2 pm

Tomorrow at Barooga Recreation Reserve

Under-14: Nathalia v Tongala at 9.15 am

Under-17: Rumbalara v Numurkah at 10.45 am

Reserves: Tongala v Nathalia at 12.20 pm

Seniors: Numurkah v Tongala at 2 pm