Wickliffe-Lake Bolac and Moyston-Willaura will clash in what shapes as one of the closest grand finals in Mininera and District league history.
Just 12 points have separated the sides in three encounters during the season and the rival coaches expect today to be no different.
The biggest margin between the two was in round one, when Wickliffe-Lake Bolac won by eight points at Willaura.
Moyston-Willaura turned the tables in round 12, winning by three points, and repeated the result in the second semi-final, by a solitary behind.
While their meetings this season have been close, their grand final records contrast starkly.
The Magpies won their most recent premiership in 2005 and completed a three-peat in 2000-02. They also played in the 2006 and 2011 grand finals.
The Pumas, meanwhile, are yet to win a flag since merging in 2000. As single entities, Moyston last won in 1991, while Willaura fans have had to wait since 1975.
Moyston-Willaura coach Daniel Guinane said the two communities, south and west of Ararat, were relishing the chance to create club history.
“It’d mean the absolute world to them. There are a lot of blokes who have been around for a while,” he said.
“If we can win they’d be over the moon — 1991 and 1975, it’s a long time coming.”
Guinane is a former Geelong Amateurs and South Barwon footballer into his third year at Moyston-Willaura and second as coach.
He has overseen gradual improvement from finals participant to genuine flag chance, with the help of a few targeted recruits.
Guinane said the grand finalists played similar brands of football, both putting faith in run-and-carry out of the backline.
He was confident the Pumas had more options up forward — Guinane, Josh Vanderwaal and Aaron McKinnis included — to stretch the Magpies.
“We’ve got a couple of big blokes. We’ve had three forwards kick over 150 goals between them,” he said.
“And our next three forwards have kicked 80 goals between them.”
Athletic ruckman Josh Bywater, strong-bodied onballer Lynden Brewis and half-back Rhys Cronin also loom as crucial players for the Pumas.
Bywater will take on Wickliffe-Lake Bolac big man Brad Keilar, who this week won his second W. J. Lewis medal.
The Magpies will also turn to defenders Charlie Archer and Michael Otto, onballer Jason Quinlivian, while Josh Keys is the go-to man up forward.
Coach Nick Willox said about 10 recruits from Geelong — all with links to the club — had helped the Magpies rise from 10th last season.
“Two years ago we lost the grand final and had a few blokes disappear,” he said.
“Everyone rallied at the end of last year and called upon a few people.
“We haven’t gone over the top recruiting big-money players. They’ve all been friends of people at the club.”
Willox said he believed depth would help the Magpies get over the line today.
“We definitely showed on the weekend against Tatyoon (in the preliminary final), a few blokes coming off the bench had an impact on the game,” he said.
“If your 19th, 20th and 21st players are in the top five at the end of the game, you know you’ve got that depth. “You don’t have to rely on those top five or six players.”
The game is at Mininera Recreation Reserve from 2.30pm.