MERRIVALE will break its eight-year premiership drought when it meets Panmure in the Warrnambool and District league senior football grand final.
That’s the overwhelming verdict of the rival coaches, one day out from the blockbuster decider at Reid Oval tomorrow.
Seven of the nine coaches contacted predicted the Tigers would prevent the Bulldogs from becoming the third club in history to complete a three-peat.
Deakin University coach Matt Lenehan tipped Merrivale by between 20 and 30 points. “Just on form I reckon Merrivale have hit form at the right time of year and Panmure’s form has seemed to dip apart from last weekend,” he said.
Confidence factored in the thinking of Kolora-Noorat coach Ben Kenna, who tipped Merrivale by six points.
“They’ve beaten (Panmure) the last two times, they’ve got confidence from that. Their form has been fairly consistent the last month or two,” he said.
Brendan Whelan predicted Merrivale would use the big ground to its advantage to run away with a 30-point win.
“I just reckon because they’re fresh, they’ve had a pretty good run, peaked at the right time of year,” he said.
“Panmure absolutely towelled us out there, just their height and the way they carved us up on the ball.
“But both teams have real quality onballers. I just like Merrivale’s outside pace. That’s where they got over Panmure last time.”
Russells Creek mentor Jay Everall tipped Merrivale by 21 points while Dennington coach Ben Parkinson also backed the Tigers, by 20 points.
“There’s a fair bit of buzz down there with the 17s and ressies in. They’ve gone in with the best form, they’ve got a full list,” Parkinson said.
“Everything points in their favour. They’ve also got the experience behind them. Not so much finals experience but game experience.”
Outgoing Timboon Demons coach Brendan Hickey believed current form would count more than how the contenders had played mid-season. Hickey tipped Merrivale by 24 points although said “I honestly don’t think there’s too much between the two sides”.
“Their late-season form seems to have been a little bit better than Panmure, who have been the best side all year but don’t seem to be right now,” he said.
Old Collegians coach Daryl Beechey said the Tigers’ ball use and speed would lead them to the flag.
“Merrivale got us on their speed and spread. Against Panmure both times we were up at three-quarter-time and they got us in the last,” he said.
“Their run came through late but I think Merrivale will win, just the form they’re taking in.” Panmure had its backers in the form of Paul Butters. But the East Warrnambool coach was far from convinced about his prediction.
Butters tipped “Panmure for the sake of them being the best side all year” before reconsidering.“Having said that though, the big ground might help Merrivale a fair bit. I reckon it’ll be a draw, it’s going to be a tight game.”
Allansford coach Josh Parkinson also tipped Panmure. Parkinson said the experience of winning the premiership the past two seasons would be telling.
“All they needed was that win against Dennington (in the preliminary final) to get the right amount of confidence going in,” he said.