By Matt Fotia
It’s been a long trip around the sun for Seville and Yarra Junction, but as the dust settles these two emerging rivals remain the final two standing in Division Two once again, as they prepare to meet in the decider for a second year running, this time at Yarra Glen.
Yarra Junction, who ended its long standing premiership drought last season against Seville, have taken the scenic route to the Grand Final.
Despite finishing one spot higher on the home and away ladder in 2019, the Eagles were unable to gain a direct route to the final day, having to play in the Preliminary Final against Powelltown last weekend, a game they scraped through, winning by just three points in front of a big crowd at Monbulk.
The Eagles left the door open for the Towners by missing crucial chances in the early stages of Saturday’s play-off according to senior coach John Holmes, who missed the game with a heel complaint.
“We just couldn’t convert, we had two shots that we should’ve kicked to be honest (early on) and then Skave (David Johnson) missed one early on in the second quarter and we blew a couple of other chances, they go up the other end kick one and it’s game back on,”
“If we’d taken those chances we could’ve made our afternoon a lot easier, but to Powelly’s credit they stuck it out and it turned out to be a nail biter in the end.”
The Eagles kicked the first and only goal of the final quarter from the opening bounce to regain the lead, before holding off the Demons for the next 34 and half minutes. Holmes credited his defenders, but once again pointed out his sides inefficiency at the other end.
“They (the back six) stuck fat and ground it out, but we should’ve kicked a couple of easy goals at the other end which would’ve killed the game for us.”
The Eagles still have both football sides alive heading into the last weekend of the season, an incredible rise considering the club was struggling to field two sides just a few years ago.
Whilst Holmes has no doubt played a major role in the clubs rise up the Division Two ladder, he credits the clubs regeneration to the quality of people involved on the ground floor.
“We’re in a really good position to be honest, we were struggling for players three years ago and if everyone is fit this weekend, we’ll have 10-14 players miss out on a game in the seconds,”
“It’s a really good club (Yarra Junction), with really good people and thats why people keep coming, because of those good people around the place.”
The Eagles, who have a fair chunk of Grand Final experience, will be keeping everything the same this week on the track – as is convention – but Holmes is well aware that he cannot control his players excitement levels ahead of a game that he expects to be a cracker.
“We won’t do anything this week, the twos might train a bit harder because they’ve had the week off, but it’s about getting the bodies right, the skills sharp and going into the game as fresh as we can,”
“Phones will start ringing a bit more because everyone wants to talk to you, and all you do is think about football, but our group know how to attack this week, keep cool heads and enjoy the last week of football for the year together,”
“Grand Finals are a funny thing, you never know what’s going to happen, but if both sides play at their best it’ll be a cracking game.”
Whilst Holmes watched his side defeat Powelltown from the home coaches box at Monbulk, his Grand Final counterpart, Kane Shore, looked on from the bleachers. Shore had been at Monbulk since the early morning of course, watching the other Seville sides that were competing.
The Blues have all of their senior sides in the Grand Final, with each of its four netball sides reserving their spot in the big dance alongside the two football sides, something Shore and the club are very proud of.
“It’s a wonderful achievement in itself, to have six teams in the grand final – the reserves have come from nowhere again, they’ve got a habit of doing that.”
With this season setting a replay of the 2018 Grand Final, much chatter has been around the psyche of the Blues players, who were on the wrong end of massive scoreline in last year’s decider.
But Shore says his regenerated squad won’t need reassurance.
“Each year is different, a new feel, when you get players like Juzzy (Justin Myers), the Oxley’s (Adam) and the Dan Iaucone’s, it’s a different level of experience,”
‘People will try and correlate between this year and last year, but as we’ve said all along it’s a totally different year with different blokes,”
“We’ll go in with the mentality that there’s no reason to bring up last year because we don’t have the same team.”
Seville overran the Eagles in the Second Semi Final, with Yarra Junction able to control the game for the first three quarters, but Shore and the Blues were confident they could reel them in, as long as they were in reach at the final change.
“We couldn’t get going and that’s to Junction’s credit, they’ve got a bloody good side, their midfielders, pace on the outside and their ball movement made us feel like we couldn’t get going,”
“But once we knew we were within striking distance – we know we’re fitter than we’ve been before, we know we can run all day – we were confident we could get over the top of them,”
“But it’s a brand new ball game come Grand Final Day.”
Whilst many will be banking on the football gods finally having mercy on Seville, Shore knows that you make your own luck when it comes to the big moments.
“There was an old rule – to win one you had to lose one – but I don’t believe in that, look at Junction last year, they hadn’t won one in 30 years,”
“It’s the team on the day, it’s you beating your man one on one, it’s going to be a scrappy affair, it’s a Grand Final, no-ones going to give an inch, it’s whoever is toughest for longest,”
“We’ve got a love-hate relationship with Junction, but at the end of the day we respect their football and it’s going to be two good teams from the Valley having a crack,”
“It’ll be on for young and old, that’s for sure.”
Leo Groenewegen (AFL Outer East Commissioner / Commentator)
Seville by 30 points
The Blues have the most potent attacking arc in the competition and with their improved midfield they will be the difference with some consistent entries.
BOG – Justin Myers (Seville)
Matthew Fotia (AFL Outer East Media Manager / Commentator)
Yarra Junction by 3 points
The Eagles outside runners will enjoy the width of Yarra Glen, and they have a number of big game players on every line ; Hammen, Brookes, Wadsworth, Armstrong, Johnson, Wheeler.
BOG – Ewan Wadsworth (Yarra Junction)
Seville by 21 points
I expect it to be a high scoring, high octane clash, with Seville’s versatility up forward seeing them through, despite David Johnson playing out of his skin with five plus.
BOG – David Johnson (Yarra Junction)
Catch all the action from the Yarra Glen Recreation Reserve on OETV.com.au or Yarra Valley 99.1FM