THE midfield battle will determine South West District league’s 2013 premier, according to the rival coaches.
Heywood mentor Jason Saunders and Coleraine counterpart Matt Dunn have rated that contest integral to today’s grand final at Portland’s Hanlon Park.
The Lions enter the decider undefeated and searching for back-to-back flags.
Heywood has had the better of Coleraine on three occasions this season but each time the Maroons bridged the gap.
The Lions notched a 63-point win in round three, a 22-point victory in round 12 and scrapped home by nine points in their semi-final.
Saunders said Heywood’s narrow semi-final win was a “reality check.” “I made it fully aware last night and during the week that Coleraine are improved and we have to keep raising the bar,” he said.
“The 21 guys across the board have to be respectful of the contest. We can’t afford to have one passenger.”
Dunn said Coleraine’s semi-final effort was a confidence-booster.
“Each time we’ve got a little bit closer and short lapses have cost us in those games,” he said.
“They are favourites.
‘‘They’ve been undefeated all year but in saying that if we have even contributions we give ourselves a chance.”
Saunders said it was important the Lions players, some of whom understood the club’s success-starved past and others who had only known success, didn’t become complacent. Heywood’s reserves will also play in a grand final, against Westerns.
“We want to make sure guys don’t take it for granted,” he said.
“We don’t want to get overconfident and want to rock up with the right mindset.”
Saunders said the midfield battle would determine the result.
“They have handy onballers and ruckman Zac McDonald as well and he can go forward as well,” he said.
“On a big oval as well, we have to make sure rotations are up and make sure we don’t burn out too early.”
Lions midfielders Stephen O’Brien and James Imbi, defenders Josh Nash, Ben Millard, William Bell and Winis Imbi and forwards Mick Wilson and John Bell will play key roles.
Maroons defender Craig Tosetti will start on Wilson, who has kicked 112 goals this season.
“The last time he kept him to two goals and it was a good battle,” Dunn said.
“We have a fair bit of leg speed. Hopefully if it becomes an arm wrestle our leg speed will get us on top.”
Teenage midfielder Eric Guthrie is one of the Maroons’ rising stars.
“His three games in the finals series have been exceptional,” Dunn said.
“He was keen to play with his mates at his home club this year.
“There is an inkling there and an ability to go to a higher level.
“He is a very good athlete, has an enormous engine, speed and his skills are quite polished.”
In the netball, Heathmere has risen from fourth to book an A grade grand final berth against minor premier Cavendish.
The Magpies won five home-and-away games but have peaked at the right time of the season, knocking off Branxholme-Wallacedale, Heywood and Westerns to book an unlikely grand final spot.
Heywood meets Westerns in the B grade decider, Westerns and Cavendish will fight for the C grade crown, Heathmere plays Heywood for the A reserve title, Westerns meet Tyrendarra in the under 17s grand final, Westerns and Heywood clash in the under 15s decider and Coleraine and Cavendish will battle for the under 13 flag.