By PETER CORNWALL
It’s the grand finale that looms most likely for most of the season between the premiers of the past two seasons. And, like the AFL decision maker, it’s the showdown between the two best teams of the year.
Glenelg and the Eagles were No.1 and No.2 on the Premiership table for the last 10 rounds of the season, their second semi-final clash was a crush that went all the way to the final siren and they looming like an epic match. between the best offensive team in the league and the strongest defensive formation.
In a historic first grand final between the teams, there is enormous midfield talent and a lot of X-factor. The Tigers minor premiers, whose only loss in the home and away season was in the last game against a talented Port Adelaide team from AFL in Alberton, had six players in the SANFL announcer’s Team of the Year. And the Eagles had five reps on the elite squad.
Glenelg’s mentor Brett Hand has been named Team Coach of the Year and he will look to emulate the feat of Jade Sheedy, who coached the Eagles to their memorable flag last season in his first year in senior level of SANFL.
How epic the midfield battle is is clearly demonstrated by the ball players and wingers of those teams that have made the best team in SANFL. The Eagles have James Tsitas and Riley Knight, the Tigers Luke Partington, Matthew Snook, Brett Turner and
Matt Allen. Glenelg’s three-time medalist Ken Farmer, Liam McBean, is the team’s forward, while the Eagles have dangerous line-up Tyson Stengle, Jack Hayes and Daniel Menzel attacking in the top lineup. Between the two teams, they have the four best kickers of the year – McBean (56), Stengle (41), Menzel (40) and Tigers’ Luke Reynolds (37).
Glenelg, who are looking to emulate Norwood’s feat of 1978 by winning a flag in their centennial year and claiming to be the first club to win the women’s-men’s double, will now rejoice in the extra blow in the preliminaries. final against South Adelaide, kick to win by 28 points. If the Bays had qualified directly for the grand final with a second semifinal victory – the Eagles won by four points – they would have played just five games in 10 weeks in a season disrupted by Covid.
But the Eagles were surely happy with the break. If they had had to play in the preliminary final, they would have taken successive six-day breaks, their experienced roster no doubt happy with the time to recover and refresh. It all adds up to the anticipation of a great match-up.