SFNL Division 1 grand final preview
Originally published: SFNL: The ultimate preview to the SFNL Division 1 grand final
The sequel promises to be just as good as the original.
Well coached, packed with talent and simply no weak links.
It’s Cheltenham and Cranbourne, again, in the Southern league Division 1 decider.
Will the Eagles again reign supreme or will the Rosellas shatter their premiership drought?
Here is everything you need to know about this Saturday’s blockbuster grand final…
WHAT THE COACHES SAY
STEVE O’BRIEN, CRANBOURNE
“We’re ready to go,” he said.
“We have a huge amount of respect for them, every game we have got over the top of them it has been pretty tight, there hasn’t been much in it.
“We know it’s going to be one heck of a battle.
“They’re even all across the ground, it’s what makes them such a good side.
“They play their brand, we play our brand – we get out there and just go hell for leather at each other.
“I think we both know each other’s style, know what works for each other.
“They put a lot work into Zak Roscoe, do they do that again? We’ll see.
“There can always be a surprise on grand final day, you plan for the what if but I think in general both sides just trust their brand of footy and stick to that.
“I think that will be the case on Saturday as well.”
DES RYAN, CHELTENHAM
“They’re a good side, they just displayed all the attributes they’ve displayed through their whole journey,” he said of the second semi-final.
“We probably come off a really soft end to the year, no fault of our own, the competition dropped away a bit.
“I think we needed the run to be honest, and we’ve got that.
“You would always rather be in the grand final but I just felt that sitting there for two weeks wouldn’t have been in our best interest, not that it was orchestrated that way, but I think we’re in a far better position than we were two weeks ago.
“We’re now right, we had a lot of boys underdone that semi, they’ve had two games they needed now.
“All our boys are fit and well.”
PLAYERS THAT CAN SWAY THE RESULT
Kirk Dickson (Cranbourne)
If Holt doesn’t get you, Dickson will. He glides through the air and is just potent on the ground. He’s a difficult match-up that Cheltenham need to get right.
Josh Fox (Cheltenham)
Missed out on last year’s grand final after an exhilarating start to the season. He’s kicked 76 majors in 2023 but will have Brandon Osborne tailing him all day on Saturday.
Marc Holt (Cranbourne)
Cranbourne looks for him at almost every forward entry and it’s clear why. If Holt kicks four or more, it’s hard to see the Eagles losing.
Ryan Jones (Cranbourne)
Jones had an enormous impact in the opening term against Cheltenham last time and Des Ryan clearly rates him highly, sending a direct tag to him in the second half. He came third in the league medal and is an obvious point of difference in the Eagles side.
Ollie Moran (Cheltenham)
The dynamic midfielder will have a huge role to play pushing both ways in an important midfield battle. He won’t shy away from the physical stuff early on.
Brandon Osborne (Cranbourne)
After doing a fantastic job on Josh Fox in the second semi-final, it’s likely he will follow Cheltenham’s No.8 around again. If Osborne can suffocate the Rosellas’ main forward, it will go a long way in the Eagles claiming back-to-back titles.
Zak Roscoe (Cranbourne)
The damaging midfielder is building quite the resume, particularly at the pointy end of the year. He will no doubt have close opposition attention all day but he doesn’t need much to change the game.
Luke Verma (Cheltenham)
The Rosellas got him for this. After feeling they got beaten around the footy in the 2022 decider, Cheltenham sought after the inside dominance of Verma. He’s helped Weickhardt, Moran and the like, but his worth will be on show in the crunch of grand final footy.
Nick Waterstone (Cheltenham)
Waterstone had the match-up of Holt in the second semi-final. He was outsized but competed strongly. He will need to keep the spearhead quiet if his side is to win.
Dylan Weickhardt (Cheltenham)
The Ellis-Medal winner came back last week after some time off and got through unscathed. He will have a huge role to play, not only as a player but as a leader around his young teammates.
Cheltenham has won 35 of its past 38 games, but each of those three losses have come at the hands of Cranbourne.
The Eagles lift a gear when it comes to the big games, with two of those wins being in finals.
The Rosellas will need to restrict Cranbourne’s big-game players to make it 36 from 39.
While the younger players from Cheltenham have driven the standards this season, it will be the experienced heads that will be crucial on Saturday.
Expect Cranbourne to bring the heat physically early to make their mark on the contest.
The Rosellas’ ability to settle will be a defining factor in the result.
WHAT DO THE PUNTERS THINK?
JUSTIN TAYLOR (Port Melbourne Colts captain): Cranbourne, Zak Roscoe
KRIS THOMPSON (Springvale Districts coach): Cheltenham, Ollie Moran
KRISTIAN BARDSLEY (Bentleigh coach): Cheltenham, Dylan Weickhardt
ZACH HORSLEY (Dingley coach): Cranbourne, Nick Darbyshire
BRETT MARSHALL (Bentleigh president): Cheltenham, Sam Hayes
ELTON STEVENS (Port Melbourne Colts footy boss): Cranbourne, Zak Roscoe
NATHAN ROBINSON (Chelsea Heights coach): Cranbourne, Kirk Dickson
JASON ZEALLEY (Mordialloc president): Cranbourne, Ryan Jones
RICHARD HOUSTON (St Kilda City): Cranbourne, Marc Holt