LUCKNOW v WY YUNG
Where is it being played?: Bairnsdale City Oval
What time is the seniors game scheduled to start?: 2:15pm, Sunday August 25th
Lucknow surprised many by leapfrogging its way into the East Gippsland senior football finals.
The Magpies occupied fifth spot from round nine through to round 18,
where it took its chance to earn a finals spot as reigning premier, Stratford missed out by less than a goal, falling to minor premier, Lindenow, in the final round.
Lucknow may have won the final round lottery, however it has come as no surprise to those on the inner sanctum.
The Magpies, who face Wy Yung at City Oval in this Sunday’s elimination final, lost one game since round 11 in their flight to the top four. On the way it became only the second team to beat Lindenow (round 12, by 13 points), took out reigning premier, Stratford (round 13, by 14 points) and accounted for Wy Yung (round 17, by 25 points).
The only team Lucknow has failed to beat inside the top four is Boisdale Briagolong, a team which is playing in its first finals series and will likely head into its semi final against Lindenow Saturday week as the underdog, such is its lack of finals experience.
For the Magpies, who two years ago suffered grand final defeat at the hands of the Cats, Sunday’s clash is a chance at proving the doubters wrong and showing the Cats and Bombers they are in the premiership hunt and Wy Yung coach, Shaun Mooney, knows that.
“I think they have won seven of their last eight games, with that loss coming against Boisdale, so they are certainly the most in-form team of the competition,” he said.
“Their second half of the season has been really impressive.
“When we played them it was a pretty close battle up until the last 10 minutes and I thought we certainly had our chances early in that game.
“To Lucknow’s credit, it hung around and got its hands on the football in the last quarter and made the most of its inside 50s late in the game.”
Mooney says that his side won’t change too much heading into the contest.
“We will obviously have a couple of personnel changes but it’s finals football now and it’s like a new season.
We’re certainly heading into the game full of confidence,” he said.
“At the same time we’re mindful that the Magpies have had a consistent season. They are even across the board and we expect a fierce contest on Sunday.
“They are led really well and they will back themselves to get their hands on the football through the midfield.”
The Tigers will have their hands full with players such as livewire forward, Jake Green, lockdown defender, Chris Hammond, and midfielder, Damien Hodder, all proven match winners. Dion Grace in the ruck may cause headaches for Wy Yung’s James Beha and Andrew Thomson.
“Dion Grace has had a really consistent season so it’s going to be won or lost in the midfield. We need to make sure we get our hands on the football and put as much pressure on them as we can,” Mooney said.
Tigers’ midfield bull, Alex Crowe, has had a superb season and Mooney cannot wait to see the youngster go to work.
“Alex has been excellent and he is certainly in some great touch at the moment,” he said.
“He is a great young player and his disposal efficiency has really improved, which has proven he can take on the best midfielders in the competition. I’m looking forward to him strutting his stuff in finals.”
Lucknow and Wy Yung have remarkably similar first semi final records. Both teams are playing in an EGFNL first semi for the 13th time. To date both teams have won six and lost six. They have only met twice in first semi finals, Lucknow have won both.
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