Boots and All: Roosters' last dance

Peter Dalwood previews the first week of finals for 2021 in the River Murray Football League.

Ramblers were crowing after beating Imps in round 15, but Peter Dalwood reckons things will be different this weekend. Photo: Rambler Roosters Football and Netball Club/Facebook.

Elimination final: Imperials v Ramblers

July 17, 2021 was the day the Roosters crushed Imperials in front of the party faithful with a sparkling display of pace and precision.

It was seven goals to one at quarter time and game over.

Imperials went over to headquarters very smug and left with their tail between their legs.

At this point in time the difference between the clubs is John the Boras, with 104 goals to his name.

On the premiership ladder there is a whopping 19 per cent gap, which shows up the Reds’ lack of punch up forward together with a very generous defence.

Ramblers’ greatest asset is their pace, while Imperials have a few with cement in their boots.

The top of their agenda, though, is the fact that their best player, Luke Harrowfield, is stuck in Queensland with the borders closed; even if he does sneak out, he may have to quarantine for 14 days, which would be the end of his finals campaign.

Sean Samblich will allegedly be released by Port Adelaide; if you listen to assistant coach “Bluey” Roberts he is bigger than the second coming, but he would want to be because they’re big shoes to fill.

Imperials have struggled all season to get their best on the park. 

James Clarke, Sam DeMichele and Lui DeMichele, along with a number of others, have missed big chunks of the season and the team hasn’t really had a chance to settle, but in Sunday’s elimination final it will be move forward or mothballs.

Is Scott McMahon coaching for his job?

The slide has been gradual; are his players still listening to his message?

He enjoys a conversation mainly with the punters over the fence and many of the Ramblers followers, if they get their noses in front, will be quite willing to offer their free advice.

My hunch is that Imperials will be smarting after that loss in round 15 and will be seeking redemption.

The review at Ramblers has begun with preliminary discussions and there are a few blokes who are are DMW: Dead Men Walking.

Imperials by 11 to 20 points.

Qualifying final: Jervois v Mannum

In the dress rehearsal last week, Mannum excelled, running Jervois to within 18 points.

I reckon if you asked every Mannum punter they would be quite happy with that.

Same teams, different venue and if Mannum can find three goals from somewhere they rate themselves a silly chance this Saturday, but unless they get Jake Keller and Dylan Ribbons back to give them a bit of grunt up forward they can kiss that chance goodbye. 

It’s the business end of the season and the coaches come under scrutiny.

Taite Silverlock, the Jervois coach, never loses big games – his record speaks for itself – but his counterpart Wayne Knowles has been a renowned choker.

He has never won a game that mattered; they belt up clubs lower down the ladder but his record in finals reminds one of Ash Barty’s performance in the Tokyo Olympics: out in straight sets.

Ten goals is not going to cut it in a final, especially at the MCG: Mannum Cricket Ground.

Jervois are not over blessed with pace but they make you earn every kick and exert tremendous pressure on the ball carrier, so Mannum would need get away to a flier and break them open early to set up a win.

Rumour has it that gun forward Josh Scott is in trouble with his knee.

It’s alleged he can’t run out of the arc, so he doesn’t get up the ground like he used to, but he still kicked six goals last week.

If he goes down, the chances of a win for Jervois diminish greatly.

With Scott, Peter Zarantonello and big “Sugar Ray” Love, they should be able to kick a score.

They have got the enforcer, Tommy Kluske, directing traffic from down back and there is nothing they love more than a good wrestle when it gets tight.

Mick O’Malley is a star; they got a good look at him last week and if he picks up Scott it could decide the outcome.

Mannum need big games from Blake Tabe and the old reliables in Zac Bullard and Danny Walker, who will battle it out to the bitter end.

But Jervois will get the job done by 11 to 20 points.

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