IT is undeniable that Cudgewa will enter Saturday’s grand final against Corryong as raging favourite.
The Blues have hardly put a foot wrong all season and have lost only two matches on their way to claiming the minor premiership.
Coach Bill Deery looks to have timed their run to perfection and they look ready to peak on the biggest stage of the year.
Deery has put a lot of faith in Cudgewa’s kids in recent seasons, with Mitch Pynappels and Jake Carkeek just two players who have blossomed into handy performers.
Corryong coach Andrew Reid should also be commended after transforming the Demons from league whipping boys to grand finalists in only his second year at the helm.
Reid has been able to attract the recruits to complement the local talent, with the Demons into their first grand final since 2008.
While there is no doubting Reid’s coaching ability, it’s imperative he picks his best 20 players at the weekend.
Corryong was exposed for its lack of leg speed in the second semi-final and Reid will need to be mindful of that fact with a dry track forecast and the Cudgewa ground in magnificent condition.
Reid copped a barrage from rival spectators in the second semi-final and can expect another similar reception.
I think the Blues, with Deery alongside Brendan McEvoy, Ben Hall, Jim Cleven and Ben Aalbers, have the more potent forward line.
Greg Wheeler hasn’t played since going down with a hamstring injury in round 13, but I wouldn’t be totally shocked if the clever goalsneak was a surprise inclusion.
The Demons rely on Adrian Rijnbeek to kick a winning score, but although he booted seven in the second semi they still lost by 38 points.
I would hand Alex Star arguably the toughest job in the Upper Murray and give him first crack at stopping Rijnbeek
While the Blues forwards might get all the accolades, it’s their half-back line of Michael Voigt, Dylan Ward and Star that is the springboard for many of their attacking moves.
To land an upset the Demons are going to need Rijnbeek, league medallist Shannon Gilson, Evan Nicholas, James Paton and Troy Cooper to dominate.
How Cooper had his four-match ban with two suspended for striking Dane Arthur in the second semi-final, reduced to one week on appeal — is mindboggling.
The whispers coming out of the Blues camp are they are furious — and who could blame them?
Cooper is a matchwinner if given the time and space, and with Arthur the logical match-up, it could provide an intriguing contest.
It sets the scene for a tough, hard-fought Upper Murray grand final of the highest order, with Cudgewa to prevail by 21 points.