Hard-fought battle expected

IN THE ACTION: Craig Pitt, Dylan Ridley, Jonny Agnew and James Wallis sought the ball when Robe defeated Mount Burr in the MSEFL second semi final at Kalangadoo. Picture: J.L. (“FRED”) SMITH

RECORDS will be broken in the Mid South East Football League grand final at Glencoe as Mount Burr will triumph over Robe in a hard-fought battle on Saturday.

The winning edge will come from the hard-to-dispute facts the Mozzies are true “September Specialists” and have the best “bottom six” in the competition.

There is a strong bond among the playing group, while the noise generated by its loyal and large supporter base must surely be worth a couple of goals on grand final day.

The Mozzies dominated the Roosters in their two head-to-head meetings in the minor round, while the seaside triumph in the second semi with a goal after the siren.

The grand final victory will give the Mozzies an unprecedented fourth consecutive premiership, while veteran flanker Dale Bowering will take home his 10th premiership medallion.

Glencoe’s Jerry Phelan has held the record of nine A Grade grand final wins for over 50 years and he will hand over the mantle to Mount Burr’s longest-serving senior player.

While Robe boasts the Walker Medallist Jonny Agnew, leading goal scorer Jake Pitt, best Under 21 Jake Wehl and coach-of-the-year Jack Kelly, the seaside team does not have what the Mozzies have in spades and that is September experience.

Mount Burr has played in seven of the past 10 grand finals and won six of them.

On the other hand, Robe has just four players who have played any major round football in the MSEFL before this season.

The coastal team’s last finals campaign was in 2011 and it ended with a grand final loss to Mount Burr at Tantanoola.

Current bench coach Adrian Johns was non-playing coach on that day and his side included Jaryd Dawson, Jordan Pettit, Andrew Everett and Zac Deane.

On the other hand, Mount Burr still has eight players from 2011 in its lineup.

They are Bowering along with Brodie Hennink, Nathan Muhovics, Peter Guyett, Chris Puiatti, Taylor Redden, Jack Gregory and Tyler Stanley.

Furthermore, current bench coach Adam Wiese was in the Mozzie lineup seven seasons ago.

Before a large crowd at Tigerland, the game was still in the balance at three-quarter time as Mount Burr led by just two points.

The “September Specialists” then served up 6.4 while conceding just 1.1 to take home the Wilf Sprengel Premiership Shield.

The undoubted man-of-the-match was Puiatti and he was awarded the Stan Jones Memorial Medal.

There has been a limited turnover of Mount Burr players since the 2017 grand final, including the retirements of veterans Nick Morrison and Will Whitty and the transfer to Adelaide of teen Zacc Watson.

A couple of handy recruits have joined the fold while the likes of Puiatti, Redden and Hayden Schultz are back wearing the green-and-gold prison bar vertical stripes.

Robe has fielded much the same team as the previous season, but the talented newcomers include Jake Pitt, Wehl and Lewis Crawford.

Much of the credit for transforming the club and getting them through to the grand final should go to Kelly.

It was only a few seasons ago a number of the Roosters devoted their Friday nights to partying and were not totally focused on football on Saturdays.

Kelly has put paid to such hi-jinx and the results are on the scoreboards.

All the while, Kelly has seldom been fully-fit and it was injuries which curtailed his time in the SANFL with Sturt.

In his four seasons with Robe, injury has sidelined him for 17 matches and he has played under duress in many others.

The Robe coach has always made himself available for representative duties and has played with the MSEFL, Murray South East and SA Country sides.

For the first time in well over a decade, the MSEFL season decider will not clash with a game in the Western Border.

This will boost crowd numbers with the premiership-winning Millicent Football Club expected to be among them.

Although there are showers forecast for this week, the Glencoe Oval will cope well and an excellent playing surface is assured.

Robe has had the advantage of an extra week’s rest but that does not account for much nowadays with the fitness levels of MSEFL players climbing over the decades.

The pattern of twice-weekly training sessions and lengthy summer lay-offs has long been abandoned by MSEFL clubs.

One of the sidelights to the day will be the performance of Agnew, who is a lion-hearted captain.

He began his footy at Mount Burr and then made a successful transition to the Western Border, where he captained the Millicent Saints.

Agnew puts his body on the line in every contest and many unaligned supporters would say he deserves to play in a premiership team.

There is little room for sentiment in footy and it will be Hennink and Renzi who will be accepting the premiership pennant at 5pm on Saturday.

The “September Specialists” will prevail.