SOUTH Warrnambool coach Damian Thornton hopes his side’s only defeat of the season is the loss it had to have as it chases victory in tomorrow’s Hampden league under 16 grand final at Koroit.
The Roosters had an unblemished record entering the second semi-final two weeks ago but Cobden, which had only lost two games during the home-and-away season, produced an 18-point upset, riding a wind advantage to victory in the final quarter.
Thornton said the Roosters had rebounded well to win last week’s preliminary final against North Warrnambool Eagles by 11 points.
“There hasn’t been much between the two sides,” Thornton said of South and Cobden.
“It was good (to lose). It was a bit of a wake-up call for a few boys. Some boys might have taken a bit of a backward step.
“To have the loss, a few of the boys thought about their footy a bit more.”
South Warrnambool was the only side to defeat Cobden during the season, winning both encounters, the first in May by 10 points and the round 13 match a month ago by 35 points.
Cobden, after winning the second semi-final, is the only side to defeat South Warrnambool.
Thornton said both were quick, skilful sides.
“It will come right down to the wire,” he said.
“Our backline is probably one of the best backlines around but they have a really good midfield and that’s where we have to match them.”
He said his midfielders Callum Humphrys, Josh Alexander, Jeremy Stacey and under 15 Vic Country representative Kyden Jarvis had big jobs against their Bombers counterparts, including captain Jack Hutt and Lewis Robertson.
Cobden is looking to go one better than last year when it was beaten in the grand final by Warrnambool.
Coach Marty Darcy said two-thirds of tomorrow’s side was part of last year’s unsuccessful side, while the others had been part of the under 14 triumph last season.
He said his players were hitting form at the right time. He also expects the midfield battle to be a big factor in the result, with Jesse Williams, Jack Hammond and Jono Benallack having important roles.
“Our two finals have been our best two performances so far,” he said.
“They have been our best team efforts, a really good effort right across the ground, not relying on too few.”
Cobden is aiming for back-to-back flags in the under 14s when it takes on North Warrnambool Eagles, who prevailed in a marathon preliminary final against Koroit last week.
South Warrnambool will start favourite to win the inaugural 16 and under netball grand final.
The Roosters, who lost just one game during the regular season, face Camperdown, which has come from third spot to qualify for the showdown.
The Magpies lost the qualifying final but prevailed by two goals in each of their first semi and preliminary final wins.
They were the only side to defeat South Warrnambool this year with a two-goal win in June.
In the 14 and under netball grand final, competition heavyweights Warrnambool and North Warrnambool Eagles are set for a showdown.
The Eagles finished on top of the ladder with an unbeaten home-and-away season, one game better than Warrnambool. But the Blues scored a one-goal victory over the Eagles in the second semi-final.