Boots and All: Wayne Knowles’ last supper

Peter Dalwood previews the River Murray Football League's 2021 semi finals.

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

In scenes reminiscent of that great Da Vinci painting The Last Supper, Mannum coach Wayne Knowles made his biggest decision of the season at Thursday’s selection table.

He had to choose between a beef schnitzel or a chicken schnitzel and even then he hesitated.

He is gone, he knows he is gone, that is public knowledge, and in Sunday’s knock-out final he is gifting the game to Imperials because Mannum haven’t been able to kick a score to save themselves.

Four goals last week was a dismal effort against a banged-up opposition – it just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Mannum just don’t have a forward who can impact and their recent history under Knowles – they have never won a final during his tenure – is under scrutiny.

I reckon he gets nervous on the big stage and if you’re a betting man you should be able to get 100/1 about the Mannum Roos on Father’s Day.

One man stands between them a flogging and that is Michael O’Malley.

O’Malley was clearly best on the ground last week and saved Mannum from complete embarrassment; he is the meat and potatoes of the club, while Knowles is mainly potatoes.

They have some great young talent in Chad Reschke, Declan Gladigau, Brodie Maloney and Blake Fidge but their experienced players in Jake Keller and Dylan Ribbons need a massive day out to even be competitive; they are banged up and good sides find them out.

Imperials are getting their best on the park at the right time, led by goal-kicking sensation John the Boras.

Boras had little opposition last week but he received good supply.

Somehow Luke Harrowfield escaped the clutches of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

He obviously rang Liam O’Neil in Canberra but dialed the wrong number and got Mick O’Neil in Elliston, who arranged safe passage for him.

That’s what mates in high places are for.

Imperials barely raised a sweat last week, Harley Montgomery played his best game of the season, Dwayne Wilson added some polish and their defence, led by coach Scott McMahon and James Clarke, will get the job done.

Imperials by 21 to 30 points.

Tailem Bend v Jervois

This is the game the punters have been waiting for.

Jervois claim that Tailem Bend dodged a bullet due to the COVID forfeit back in round 15.

In round seven, Tailem Bend suffered their only defeat for the season when Jervois touched them up by 36 points, and it was the gun forward Josh Scott who destroyed them with eight goals.

Last week Jervois finished battered and bruised, with Scott and Josh Woodall looking very second-hand at the final siren.

If Scott was horse they would put him down but somehow he comes up every week.

Still, it’s going to be a tough ask to get him through four finals if needed.

Jervois need the win to give him a rest next week because without him they can kiss 2021 goodbye.

The top-end talent at Jervois has served them well: Adam Diamond; coach Taite Silverlock; Peter Zarantonello, who provided an alternative forward last week; Zane Barry, who adds some pace.

But can their back six hold up?

That is the key question.

Their power and class is all midfield and ahead, and I’m not sure if Ryan McKaye, Casey Robins and enforcer Tom Kluske can hold it together in the big moments.

It’s been a meteoric rise for Tailem Bend.

It’s almost too good to be true but Saturday is their first real test for some months.

Nick Westoff has had a terrific season, he gives you an extra midfield and he drifts forward and kicks goals; Jordan Bell, Connor Smelt and the veterans Dylan Hogarth and Jarrad Linde deserve some success; but the Eagles are coming from a long way back and have nothing but wooden spoons in recent years.

Joe Biden wants Tailem Bend to win and he always backs the good guys.

The Taliban and Jervois have a common denominator, an us-against-the-world mentality, and it’s working for both of them.

The forecast for the MCG, AKA the Meningie Cricket Ground, is for rain.

It should suit the physically strong Jervois lineup and slow the Eagles down, but don’t forget the Hansen factor, the most influential player on the park.

It’s a toss of a coin but the top-end talent at Jervois will get them home by one to 10 points.

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