SELECTION headaches have arrived for Warrnambool and District league coaches facing decisions about who to include for semi-final weekend.
Kolora-Noorat coach Ben Kenna and his Merrivale counterpart Jason Porter named extended benches for their respective fixtures this weekend.
Panmure mentor Simon O’Keefe had a tough decision to make, with full-forward Gary Robinson fit after being a late withdrawal for the qualifying final.
But there was more certainty at Dennington, which emerged unscathed from its elimination final triumph in heavy conditions.
Coach Darcy Lewis had little hesitation naming an unchanged side for the first semi-final against Merrivale at Mack Oval on Sunday.
Lewis said the Dogs had a light run at Dennington Recreation Reserve last night in preparation for the last-chance clash.
“Finals time, people probably don’t let on (about injuries), but I’m really happy everyone was there and everyone was full of beans,” he said.
Merrivale named fringe seniors Dion Romaniszyn and Jake Shiells on an extended bench last night, opting against confirming any omissions.
Porter said the Tigers had emerged worse for wear from their humbling qualifying final loss to Panmure.
Multiple players are battling soreness, while frontline onballer Todd McLean strained a hamstring in the match and is in a race against time to be fit.
Porter said he would finalise his side tomorrow afternoon.
“We’ll train Saturday morning, a jog and walk in the water to give blokes an extra couple of days,” he said.
“Hopefully it works.”
Merrivale beat Dennington 12.10 (82) to 6.15 (51) at Merrivale Recreation Reserve the last time the sides met.
Three Tigers and two Dogs selected for Sunday didn’t feature that day.
But both sides will be without key players from that match — James Kelly at Merrivale and Chris Vickery at Dennington, whose seasons are over thanks to injuries.
Brandon Cole was the unlucky Bulldog to make way for Robinson for the second semi-final at Mortlake’s D. C. Farran Oval tomorrow.
The change restores Panmure’s forward line to full strength but robs it of a key-position defender.
But O’Keefe said speed, as opposed to height, would be more crucial in curtailing the Power’s explosive forward line.
“He’s just unlucky,” O’Keefe said of Cole’s omission.
“It’s probably match-ups, I would think.
“With our three talls in the forward line and Noorat being a quicker, lankier side, we needed a different match-up.
“We’ve got Ben Meade on the bench as a defender anyway, so we’ve got a key backman if we need.
“The defence was really good on the weekend, so we’re backing them in again.”
Michael Sleeman and Joe Kenna come back into the Kolora-Noorat side, with the Power still to omit two players.
The minor premier has arguably the least injury concerns of any side remaining in the flag race.
Kolora-Noorat won a memorable contest in the sides’ previous meeting, 22.15 (147) to 11.5 (71) at Noorat Recreation Reserve.