Boots and All: Preliminary final day is the scariest day of the season

Peter Dalwood previews the 2021 A grade preliminary final in the River Murray Football League.

This post was contributed by Peter Dalwood, and is the author’s personal opinion.

Who can remember who ran third in the 2020 Melbourne Cup?

No one except a form analyst like myself.

Just for the record, it was Prince of Arran.

The same applies to the preliminary final, often referred to as the scariest day of the season because a good 12 months of planning can go up in smoke for either Tailem Bend or Imperials.

Three times they have met in 2021, three times Tailem Bend have emerged victorious but the gap has narrowed.

Imperials have their best team on the park and they are being led by the hottest forward in the game in John the Boras.

Boras, with 17 goals in two finals appearances so far, has carved up the opposition defenders one by one and on Saturday he will licking his lips thinking about Harry Westoff.

Harry is running around with a couple of house bricks under his jumper and to be honest if he had a race with his shadow you would back his shadow every time.

At the other end of the ground is coach Scott McMahon.

McMahon is the human sponge as he mops up everything playing the tight, defensive football that you would expect from a player of his experience.

He gives nothing away and is so mean in the back half that he would steal the pennies from a dead man’s eyes.

It’s going to take a miracle for Tailem Bend coach Ben Hansen to get up.

It looked like a bad ankle injury last week but he will play because he has to.

Tailem Bend’s forward line was non-existent last week, with the Jervois defenders holding them goalless in the first half.

Their heads were down even though they were still in the game at the long break; they were mentally shot.

The excuse I have been offered is that they have played very little football over the last six weeks, and playing soft opposition against clubs that are out of finals contention.

You get the feeling that this is a club that is content with what it has achieved in 2021.

It been their best season in over 15 years, but it’s time for a few players to stand up and be counted.

Tom Geyer, this is not like a doddle in the park back at your home club at Keith.

It’s time for Dale Finnie, Steve Clay, Nick Westoff, Jordan Bell and Ben Rossi to deliver what they’re paid to do.

It’s at Tailem Bend, on the toy ground, so no centre half forward required.

Imperials have good midfield loaded with experience, a sound defence, a gun forward and a wild card in Dwayne Wilson.

Wilson sometimes turns up, sometimes he doesn’t but he can be a match-winner if he is switched on.

But Nick Westoff gives the Eagles an edge in ruck and I reckon they can sneak over the line.

Four finals thus far, but let’s not beat about the bush: four sub-standard games at this stage.

At home, Tailem Bend by one to 10 points.

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