IT’S reigning premier versus reigning premier.
Unusual circumstances will pit 2012 grand final winners Terang Mortlake and Portland against each other in the Hampden league under 18½ decider at Reid Oval today.
The Bloods will attempt to defend their Hampden league triumph and the Tigers are aiming for a major league win to complement their Western Border flag.
Terang Mortlake coach Shane Quick said it added more intrigue to what would be a tantalising battle.
The Bloods produced a 33-point win in round two and the Tigers clawed their way to a six-point victory in round 11.
“It is fairly unique. They are the new kids on the block and have taken all before them in the finals and have surprised a few,” Quick said.
“It is exciting and there is an element of the unknown. Both sides haven’t played each other a lot and especially with a full list. They are a successful club and know what finals are about.”
Both clubs have benefited from their seniors missing finals, with players dropping back to the junior grade.
“We’ve come from fifth and were able to have a lot of tough games and that made us match-hardened,” Quick said.
“I coached the under 18s in 2004, ’05 and ’06 and made three grand finals in a row and unfortunately we were defeated in all three, so it’d be nice to turn this one around if we can.”
Terang Mortlake and Portland have TAC Cup players on their lists.
Geelong Falcons’ trio Alex Moloney, Xavier Lourey and Sam Crawley will line up for the Bloods and North Ballarat Rebels-listed pair Rowan Marshall and Tom Templeton will represent the Tigers.
“Alex is a versatile player. His main position is defence, across centre half-back, but he can be thrown on the ball or up forward if need be,” Quick said.
“Xavier does the same thing and Sam is a midfielder and small forward.”
Quick said the Bloods’ versatility was the key, as was their midfield, which would be paramount against the Tigers.
“Portland are a big side, physically strong and move the ball well,” he said.
Portland captain Michael Matthews said there was a positive feeling at Hanlon Park.
The Tiger cubs are the league debutant’s only grand finalists.
“We are so proud of ourselves and I think the club is really proud of us as well,” Matthews said.
“We went in not expecting it at the start of the year.
“We got off to an ordinary start and Terang gave us our first big touch-up and we thought it was going to be a long season, but we worked hard.”
Matthews, 18, said he was anticipating a close contest.
“The first time they smashed us, they were too quick,” he said.
“The second time in the fourth quarter they gave us a run for our money.
“It’s going to be four tough quarters of footy.
“No matter what it will be close.”