LEAGUE champions Wodonga Diamonds, beaten only once all year, will go into Sunday’s cup decider as the underdog, says coach Jimmy Bell.
Diamonds needed a golden goal in extra time to qualify for the grand final while Myrtleford booked its spot with an impressive 3-1 win against Boomers on Saturday night.
Bell ventured to the Ovens Valley for the first semi and left feeling ill.
“They looked better than good,” he said.
“Charlie Romain gives them something extra in the middle of the park and with all their players available they have a formation and team that is super-strong.
“But they have a bit to play for and will no doubt feel the pressure — they haven’t taken any silverware this season so that might help our cause.
“On the weekend’s results they have to be the favourites.”
Diamonds had the better of the home and away season where they defeated Myrtleford 5-4 at home and drew 1-1 at Savoy Park in the second round.
Despite losing three points for playing an ineligible player, Diamonds finished the season as league champions, six points clear of Myrtleford.
But Bell fears the demands of winning the home-and-away season and surviving the cut-throat Cup knockout could be taking its toll.
“One of the hardest things to do is win the league-cup double and we are probably suffering under that burden as well,” he said.
“Each week teams are raising the bar against you, looking to knock you off and that takes its toll — in the end you run out of legs.
“That was certainly evident on Sunday when Melrose were first to the ball and probably had the better of the game.
“But to the boys’ credit they dug deep and sometimes it is a sign of character when you can win ugly.
“But we have to put our thinking caps on to just make sure we are competitive, I came away from Savoy Park knowing this is going to be a real contest.”