After 15 rounds and finals fever, the AFL North West competition has come down to this weekend, when Tamworth Swans gear up to take on the Inverell Saints in AFL NW’s grand final clash in Gunnedah.
For Swans President, Josh McKenzie, it’s been a hard and long season, but they got there.
“Its a little bit surprising from where we were a month ago to be in the grand final but at training last night the boys were on point, and we will have a few players coming back into the team so we will field the strongest team we’ve had this year,” said Josh McKenzie, President Tamworth Swans.
Swans will be looking to their captain, Justin Leehy, to guide them through after his strong performance throughout the season.
“Justin has been key through the middle and has stepped up as captain when Dylan Beasly got injured in our first game and he has done an outstanding job leading by example,” said Josh.
“He really sets the tone, but we’ve had contributors right across the park this year and there are some first and second year players who can really unleash themselves in the biggest game of the year.”
Tamworth Swan are no strangers to grand final footy and will be looking to shut their opponents early.
“Inverell’s speed is the biggest danger for us,” said Josh.
“They are a very young team, and they are confident when they are up so we need to contain them with their speed and the more we can keep scoreboard pressure in them the deeper we can go into the game.”
It wasn’t the run to the grand final the Swans had planned but hard work had paid off, nonetheless.
“We are really excited to be in this position after we lost quite a few players at the end of last year and it’s a great testament to the fellas who have come into the club and those who have stepped up, like Will George, to take on key roles and very exciting for us to be back in the grand final again.”
In the three games the Saints met the Swans this year, Inverell showed their dominance with a clean sweep, and they will be looking to add another win to the tally and take the title.
“The boys are fully fit coming in after the week off and we will line up with the same side that we did that defeated Armidale in the qualifying final.” Said Dick Gleeson, Coach Inverell Saints Men’s Senior Team.
Inverell will be looking to their experienced players in Hayden Chappel and Angus Croft to lead the charge.
“It’s the youngest side I have ever coached in AFL,” said Dick.
“But its good to be young, they don’t worry about history, they don’t worry about the past, they just there for the moment.”
“They can play the slow game; we will play the fast moving game and using our youth.”
“Hayden Chappel is our captain and will lead the way, being a great player in the club winning best and fairest a few times, he will be out in front.”
The Men’s grand final will kick off at 12pm Saturday 26th August at Wolseley Oval in Gunnedah, followed by the Women’s grand final at 2:30pm when Gunnedah Poochettes host the Inverell Saints.
In their first clash of the season, in round 3, Inverell took the win over Gunnedah 36-30, before the Poochettes claimed the wins in rounds 9 and 15.
The Saints have worked hard to claw their season back and to find themselves taking the field this Saturday.
“The girls have done it the hard way, but they’ll be ready and fit, and it will be nearly there first time they’ll have a full side on the paddock following injury and other commitments,” said Dick.
“Georgie Chappel has come back late in the season. She is a very strong player in the middle and they will be looking for her to lead the way.”