THE prize is a grand final berth but history says the winner of today’s second semi-final has a significantly- enhanced chance of claiming the premiership in two weeks.
Both Koroit coach Adam Dowie and Warrnambool counterpart Scott Carter know the stakes are high this afternoon at Port Fairy’s Gardens Oval.
Just how high?
In the past 15 years, 12 winners of the second semi-final have gone on to win the grand final two weeks later.
The last team to win the grand final after being beaten in the second semi-final was Warrnambool in 2010 when Dowie coached. Dowie was also at the helm of Terang Mortlake in 2004 when it came from fourth to win the flag. The other successful side to claim the grand prize without winning the second semi-final was Koroit in 2007. Both Terang Mortlake and Koroit didn’t participate in the second semi-final.
“They don’t get too much higher,” Carter said of the importance.
“The side that wins this week is probably in the driver’s seat. There is everything to play for.
“With so much at stake I would like to think it will be a typical final full of pressure.”
The Blues enter the match having beaten every side in the competition except Koroit.
“We have to be much better with our pressure skills than last time we played them,” Carter said.
“We allowed them to maintain possession far too easily.”
He said it was important his side made a good start.
“Our focus is not be giving away a start at quarter-time like we did last week against Cobden. We definitely need to be in the game at quarter and half-time.”
The Blues have shown they can win from behind, with rousing victories against Cobden last week and North Warrnambool Eagles in round nine. Koroit has rarely been tested after half-time, having already set up victories. But in two of its three losses for the season it had been unable to overcome three-quarter-time deficits.
Dowie said the Saints’ three inclusions in its squad for today’s match — Haydn Drew, Jayden Brennan and Drew O’Grady — had the skill and running ability to match Warrnambool.
“In terms of match-ups between the two sides it brings us closer to Warrnambool’s strengths,” he said.
“Not that we are overly worried about that, but we are pretty evenly-matched teams. I watched Warrnambool last week and the thing that makes them so good is their evenness through the midfield.”
Dowie said Warrnambool was getting more goals from sources other than key forwards Jason Rowan and Travis Graham.
“I just think we are two sides that probably play a similar way and a similar style. It’s about negating the strength of the opposition and playing to our own strengths,” Dowie said.
“We did that against them in round 10 and we would love it if we could do that again.
“Our forwards and midfields probably set it up that day with their pressure. Warrnambool wasn’t getting a lot of fluent footy into their forward line and that was a reflection of our pressure.”