Ovens and Murray grand final: coaches have their say

XAVIER MARDLING: How much confidence can Lavington take out of pushing Albury for almost three quarters of the second semi-final?

DEAN HARDING: I think they take a heap of confidence out of that and also the fact that they have been building nicely. The Panthers come into this game with good form, have been able to restrict oppositions to gettable scores and with Adam Prior, Justin Koschitzke and Luke Garland, they have a front end that can produce if their midfielders can break even.

XM: Is there any point trying to tag Daniel Cross?

DH: Probably not, but as a group the Lavington boys need to make sure they get their starting points right at the stoppages and when he gets behind the footy, one of the Panthers’ forwards have to lock onto him. If they do run someone with him, someone like an Adam Butler may be the match-up because he has the size, the running capacity and can play in multiple positions.

XM: Does Jake Way get the job on Joel Mackie again?

DH: I think he has to go to Mackie again. He did a great job in the second semi-final and his role on Tyler Bonat last week in the preliminary final was important.

XM: Would you have any concerns about bringing in Aisake O’hAilpin or Michael Thompson after a month off with soft-tissue injuries?

DH: Yes you would, but I’m sure they have been assessed and will be OK if they play. The bigger decision is who they leave out for them to come in. Whoever misses will be extremely unlucky and they need to make sure they get their balance right.

XM: Finally, you’ve been spot-on all finals series, so who wins the big dance?

DH: With the conditions looking like they are going to be wet, you would think a close contest is on the cards. Elliott Powell is a massive loss if he doesn’t take his place as he has that real power off the mark to create space for himself and teammates to put any defence under pressure. He can win his own footy and get away from the stoppage and gives the Tigers some real energy every time he is involved. James Saker’s boys, who have done an amazing job over a long period of time, will need to slow the Albury movement and not let them score in blocks as they have shown they are near on impossible to give a lead to and then run them down. Defending hard and taking every opportunity will be crucial for the Panthers, but I still feel that Albury just has too many top-liners and can win this by finding a way to kick a dozen goals.

OVENS AND MURRAY COACHES’ GRAND FINAL TIPS

TERRY BURGESS (Corowa-Rutherglen): Albury by 33 points

Did Simpson Medal: Daniel Cross (Albury)

BRAD MURRAY (Myrtleford): Albury by 32 points

Did Simpson Medal: Daniel Cross (Albury)

JASON AKERMANIS (North Albury): Albury by 39 points

Did Simpson Medal: Setanta O’hAilpin (Albury)

BRENDAN CAIRNS (Wangaratta): Albury by 33 points

Did Simpson Medal: Luke Packer (Albury)

SAM CARPENTER (Wangaratta Rovers): Albury by 78 points

Did Simpson Medal: Daniel Cross (Albury)

DEAN HARDING (Wodonga): Albury by 17 points

Did Simpson Medal: Dean Polo (Albury)

DARYN CRESSWELL (Wodonga Raiders): Albury by 47 points

Did Simpson Medal: Brayden O’Hara (Albury)

CHRIS KENNEDY (Yarrawonga): Albury by 30 points

Did Simpson Medal: Luke Packer (Albury)

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