THE Mid South East Football League second semi-final at the Robe Oval today is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated finals games in recent times, with Kalangadoo tipped to narrowly defeat Hatherleigh and advance directly to the grand final at Nangwarry on September 16.
The Eagles and the Magpies are evenly matched, but the black-and-whites have a slight edge in overall finals experience.
They have played in the past three major rounds, while the last game for their opponents in the month of September was their winning 2013 grand final.
Despite an inferior percentage, the Magpies claimed the minor premiership at the expense of the Eagles at the end of Round 18 as they had two more wins.
In their head-to-head contests, Hatherleigh won at home by 42 points on June 3 and then lost the return match on August 19 by a mere 12 points.
Magpie supporters have been at pains to point out their team was undermanned due to injuries when the teams first met almost three months ago.
Between them, the two teams have supplied almost half of the MSEFL interleague lineup at the June carnival in Mount Gambier as well as 50pc of the MSEFL Team of The Year which was announced at the Mail Medal function on Sunday.
It is the second semi-final but I believe the winner is not assured of taking home the premiership pennant and Wilf Sprengel Premiership Shield in just over two weeks from now.
This is due to the fact reigning premiers Mount Burr looked so impressive in downing Port MacDonnell by 76 points in the cut-throat first semi-final at Tantanoola on Saturday.
The Mozzies had winners across every line in that match.
We will have some idea about the winner of the 2017 premiership by 5pm on Saturday and whether it will be either Ben Mules, Jase Faulkner or Tom Renzi winning the coveted Phil Muhovics Memorial Medal as the winning grand final coach.
Mules is already a premiership coach, with success in 2014, it is Faulkner’s first as coach, while this is Renzi’s third year at Mount Burr and his second as coach.
I am of the firm belief the loser of the second semi-final contest will also have their colours lowered by the Mount Burr Mozzies in the preliminary final at Tigerland.
It will be a bitter pill to swallow but that is the fate that awaits either the minor premiers or the Eagles.
Football is all about physical and mental factors.
In the preliminary final, the reinvigorated Mount Burr players will be able to exploit the tired bodies and doubts of Hatherleigh or Kalangadoo.
There will be plenty of Mozzies looking on at the wide and firm Robe Oval on Saturday.
Both teams have added to their collection of silverware following the Mail Medal presentation function at the Millicent War Memorial Civic and Arts Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Mules achieved third place in the Mail Medal while Faulkner was named as the senior coach of the year.
By virtue of having all four of its footy teams reach the finals, Hatherleigh won the Klas Bilt and Glenelg Football Club trophies as the champion club in the MSEFL while the Magpie netballers won a swag of accolades.
There were also rich pickings for the black-and-whites in the football sphere with Tim Brennan claiming
Kalangadoo will start as favourites in the second semi because of its superior forward structure and “tall timber”.
Mules is a proven goal-scorer and has been known to turn the game in the blink of an eye, while ace forward Michael Krieger is in great form.
Co-captain James Pratt and Dallas Jeffree will control the backline while Chrissy Mules and Braeden Ousey will be hard to counter.
There are many reasons to be optimistic if you are followers of Hatherleigh.
Ruckman Sam Waring is having his best-ever season at A Grade level and finished fourth in the Mail Medal with 16 votes.
Veteran Caolan Buckley is a class act, Matt Faulkner is a key target in attack and Jack Sullivan and Gerard McGrath pick up many possessions every game.
Although it has been a relatively wet winter, the Eagles have achieved a percentage of almost 70pc.
Both teams have had some injury concerns this season, but have still managed to finish in the top two.
Kalangadoo co-captain Jason Bannister should be fit to play, but the season is over for Jonny Mules.
The main worry in the Hatherleigh camp is the driver leg muscle injury of vice-captain Josh Wight.
Officially, this is a double-chance final, but I think the loser actually has little chance against Mount Burr.
This will be the last time Hatherleigh and Kalangadoo meet in 2017.
It will be a tight run contest at the seaside but one which the Magpies will win.