This Saturday, old rivals the South West Football League and the Peel Football League will do battle in round one of the 2017 Landmark Country Football Championship.
The match, which starts at 4pm at Mandurah’s Rushton Park, is sure to provide plenty of fireworks with these two sides always hungry to prove their region is top dog.
The day also features the South West Football League combined colts side taking on the Peel Thunder colts (midday) while both leagues also have a women’s team set to play an inaugural female clash (2pm).
Footy HQ – WA reporters Justin Rake (Peel) and Andrew Elstermann (South West) take a look at how each league side is shaping up ahead of the big game.
Key play makers
It’s got to be Andrew Haydon, doesn’t it? The former Peel Thunder mid has been on fire for the South Mandurah Falcons locally and is probably the best bet to take out the Ross Elliot medal at this point. Or will it be his Souths teammate Keegan Power who makes the most difference? Another ex-Thunder player who has been brilliant for the Falcons. It’s a shame that Peel will be missing some of the league’s top talent (Aaron Elari, Ash McGrath, Mitch Clark etc.) but the team still has a contingent of firepower. Another Falcon, Brad Holmes, will be one of their main forward targets while Kyle Westwood, Kieran May and Mitchell Green could all impact the game.
Well done to the selectors, this can’t have been an easy team to choose and there is a really nice mix of experience and youthful excitement on display. For me the most exciting inclusion is Collie’s Joel Houghton who has been incredibly accurate in front of goals this year. South West fans are still sore about the amount of damage Houghton did to us playing for Peel last year. South West and Eaton stalwart Will Oelsnik always makes his presence felt in defence while Bunbury’s Patrick Farrant has been explosive through the midfield. His speed, along with pace from the likes of reigning Hayward medallist Jace Cormack and Collie’s Perry Francis will be worth watching. While Carey Park haven’t had the best 2017 season, Jayden Wilson has been solid in the ruck and the inclusion of former AFL star Brett Peake could give the Cavaliers defence some headaches.
Where it will be won
The Cavaliers haven’t necessarily included an abundance of height, but I like their ruck situation with Kyle Westwood and Tom Wood. The two should be hard to beat at the bounces which hopefully gives first use to players like Haydon and Power. With so many great players on either side of the ledger, it’s going to be a possession-based game. Whoever can control the ball best, limit turnovers and enter forward 50 the sharpest gets the win, so first use of the footy looms as crucial. Peel’s ruck duo could be the keys to winning this battle.
Last year Peel Football League were able to move the ball from centre half back to centre half forward in the blink of an eye. A lot of this was to do with former Bunbury Bulldog Jesse Gribble defecting to Halls Head and knowing his opposition well. The South West side look strong defensively and the main goal kickers in the side are in form. It will be up to the midfielders to take the ball from one end to the other. South West coach Jamie Nani has his Bunbury side playing a nice brand of fast-paced, free-flowing football that could be easily replicated by the SWFL side for good results.
Grand Final: Peel 13.6.84 defeat South West 7.11.53
The South West side were looking for their sixth consecutive division one title in this clash but Peel ultimately proved too good. Joel Houghton had a massive day out, booting six goals for Peel while Brad Holmes slotted four. Anthony Tsalikis and Mathew Michael both kicked two for the South West. Brendon Jones was awarded best on ground honours for the grand final, but he has since switched from playing in Peel to playing for the Harvey Bulls.
Round One: Peel 12.10.82 defeat South West 10.7.67
The Peel Football League side travelled to Bunbury’s Hand Oval for the round one clash. Overcast conditions greeted the two sides with Joel Houghton and Jesse Gribble doing the bulk of the damage. Each kicked three goals for Peel in a dominant day out. Anthony Tsalikis kicked three majors for the South West while Joel Mahar managed two. Jon Meadmore and Kane Bumann both impressed for the South West with strong defensive efforts while Gribble was named man-of-the-match.
Justin: This South West side poses a bigger threat to Peel than they did last year, but just to be contradictory to Elstermann, I’m going with the Cavs. Falcons duo Brad Holmes and Keegan Power to fight it out for best on ground.
Andrew: There’s no way Rake is getting bragging rights again with the South West to atone for last year’s Grand Final loss. I’m predicting a 21 point round one victory, Joel Houghton to kick three goals and Jace Cormack named man-of-the-match.