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RMFL grand final preview: Undefeated Jervois will face giant-slayers Mypolonga
Commentators Shane Snell and Matt Hood offer their predictions ahead of the 2023 River Murray Football League decider at Le Messurier Oval.
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Can Jervois complete an undefeated season and avenge their loss in last year’s grand final, or will Mypolonga pull off one more upset win?
The storylines are compelling in the lead-up to Saturday’s River Murray Football League grand final at Le Messurier Oval in Murray Bridge.
Here with the breakdown, for the last time this season, are commentators Matt Hood and Shane Snell.
Jervois v Mypolonga
Le Messurier Oval, Murray Bridge
Head-to-head this season: Jervois 2-0
Yet five months later, Jervois have gone wire-to-wire without losing a single match.
They’ll have to pick a team for Saturday’s game first, and Hood suggested the Bluds might make one or two changes.
Ben Hansen would come back in if he made it through training, and co-captain Tom Kluske was a chance if he could prove he’d recovered from a shoulder injury.
Josh Holding was done for the year thanks to a knee injury, so he would remain out and would free up player points.
Mypolonga looked healthy, Snell said, though they could still make one change: bringing in the previously concussed Bodi Stewart for under-18 player Harry Stone.
The grand final’s most important player might be Mypolonga’s Jack Kluske.
He had 39 disposals last week, 11 marks, 10 clearances, seven inside-50s and – if you don’t mind – four goals as well.
“I expect him to be tagged by Mitch Noye,” Snell said.
“Riley Robinson is a gun defender for (Mypolonga), but started forward last week, so he’s a swing player (coach) Stevie Sumner can use.”
Patrick Davies was the Tigers’ other stand-out; but the rest of the team had mostly come up through the junior ranks together and linked together well.
Mypo’s Todd Howson would probably get the job on 50-goal man Josh Scott, with Jake Altmann maybe going to Lachie Thomas, Snell predicted.
The ruck battle between Luke Wagenknecht and Harry Barnett would be 50-50.
But who would stop the dangerous Jervois duo of Zane Barry and Taite Silverlock?
“Zane Barry goes forward and creates havoc, he’s going to have someone decent on him,” Snell suggested.
“Then Peter Zarantonello, he kicked six last game, he’ll be a real problem for Stevie Sumner; and Ben Hansen will be lurking around – do you put a third defender on him?”
Whoever tagged Hansen would need to be quick, Hood suggested: “when the ball hits the ground, he goes”.
“It’s a star-studded forward line (for Jervois) – that’s where Mypolonga are going to struggle a little bit,” he said.
“Can Mitchell Lewis match Zarantonello?
“Zarantonello’s not massively big, but he’s strong and clever.”
The scenario facing Mypolonga is not totally foreign to them – after all, they won a grand final against Meningie in similar circumstances, with Sumner in charge and Kluske in the lineup, in 2017.
“They’ve come from fifth spot on the ladder, and some of these guys thrive on it,” Hood said.
“Some of them are playing beyond where they have all year.
“But have they played their grand final in the last couple of games? That’s what worries me – they’ve got to keep that going.”
What about Jervois – would the pressure of expectation get to them?
“I think they’ll probably draw on the fact that they lost last year at home, and use that as motivation,” Snell said.
“Since the start of the year, their goal has been to not lose a match.
“It will be interesting to see how they handle it on Saturday, but I don’t think the undefeated pressure will get to them … I think they’ll win.”
Hood was the same.
“I’m hoping it’s a close game,” he said, “but I think Jervois are too strong.”
Matt’s tip: Jervois
Shane’s tip: Jervois
Watch the game: Visit www.facebook.com/rivermurrayfl from 2.15pm on Saturday.