TWELVE months work all goes on the line this Saturday as the Warrnambool and District Football Netball League hosts its grand final day at Reid Oval.
Kolora Noorat will have four teams representing the club, three on the football field and one on the netball court.
The senior football side is chasing their first flag since the glory days of a three-peat in 2009-11, ironically the last of which came against Old Collegians.
The Power appears to match up well against the modern-day Warriors, as was evident by a 51-point drubbing in the second semi-final.
It has been a solid 2017 campaign for Kolora Noorat en route to the decider, having dropped just one game – to the Timboon Demons in round 13.
Third-year coach Danny Finn knows what it’s like to taste premiership success, having done so twice as a player with South Warrnambool.
“The position we’ve got ourselves in is a good reward for our season, but it’s only half the battle in terms of what we set out to achieve,” he said.
“We’ve reinforced to all the boys that routine is really important this week.
“While there’s clearly more on the line, we’ve got to stick with what we know.”
Finn will provide a valuable insight for the many grand final debutants who will take the field this Saturday.
It is expected that Kolora Noorat will field five premiership-winning players from the past decade, namely Ben Kenna, Jono Gleeson, Mark Clissold, Ben Fraser and Sean Bourke, while Stephen O’Connor was part of the losing 2012 campaign.
Two of which, Fraser and Clissold, have been facing a race against the clock to be ready in time for Saturday’s clash.
Fraser injured his calf during the second quarter of the semi-final and took no further part in the game, while Clissold did not play in that match due to a hamstring.
Assistant coach Ben Walsh, who also missed the semi-final with a back complaint, trained strongly on Tuesday night and appears a certain starter.
Finn said signs were promising that his side would be at full strength.
“Walshy trained last night (Tuesday) and got through with no problems,” he said.
“Frase is based in Melbourne and he will do some work tonight (Wednesday), but we’re expecting he will come up.”
Clissold did not train with the group on Tuesday due to work commitments.
Kolora Noorat club president Matt Clarke also indicated that all three are likely to be among the Power’s selected 22 this weekend.
“We’re hopeful, probably more confident that all three will be fit and ready to go,” he said.
“They know they’re a required part of the side and are very professional when it comes to preparation and recovery.
“We won’t play these boys if they’re not fit, but they’ve all been around long enough to know what the right decision will be.
“But at this point in time I would expect them to take their place in the side.”
Come Saturday, the Power will be hoping to make the most of its first grand final appearance since 2012.
Clarke noted past results don’t earn you a premiership and that the Warriors pose a massive hurdle.
“It’s a completely new ball game,” he said.
“We’ve been lucky to beat them twice this season, but that counts for very little now and it’s going to be a big challenge this weekend.
“They’re every bit as good as 2016, and they were the benchmark last year.”
Coach Finn said the Warriors have built further on what they established in 2016, and is expecting a fierce contest from the minor premiers.
“Their personnel has certainly improved this year in terms of recruitment,” he said.
“We’ve only played them twice with pleasing results, but their best footy is really good.”
Old Collegians ultimately went down to Nirranda in the 2016 grand final, in what was their only defeat of the season.
Other than two losses to the Power, 2017 has shaped in a similar fashion for the Warriors, dominant in claiming the number one seed following home and away competition.
Finn knows what his side has to do on Saturday, and is confident they can deliver.
“To beat them it’ll be a combination of all areas, but ultimately we’re hoping our key forwards will outsize their defence,” he said.
“In saying that, we’ve still got to win the footy out of the middle and have the defensive end really tight.
“We’ll aim to lock the ball in our attacking third and get repeat entries as often as we can, and just be relentless.
“The boys have got to come out ready to play, and bring the pressure from the first bounce.”
Clarke said the hype around the club is making for an enjoyable grand final week.
“We’re absolutely very proud of what we’ve achieved so far,” he said.
“To have three football teams and our netballers making it to the grand final is a terrific achievement.
“It was disappointing we couldn’t get the reserves across the line, but in saying that, the two best sides are probably playing in that grand final.”
With the Power also fielding their under 17.5 and under 14.5 sides this weekend, Clarke could not speak highly enough of the progress in the junior ranks this season.
“As all clubs know it’s really hard to fill junior sides at the minute,” he said.
“To get to where we have is really, really pleasing.
“A lot of these boys will probably go on to bigger and better things, but one thing that tends to work in our favour is being such a family-oriented club.
“A lot of our juniors have families that are heavily involved at the club and sometimes that can go a long way in retaining players, or even having players return after successful careers in higher leagues.”
Clarke wished all sides the best of luck and thanked the community for getting behind the teal wave.
“As a whole we’re really proud of where we’re at as a club,” he said.
“We pride ourselves on being all about the community and being a family club.
“In a town this size that doesn’t happen without the support of local businesses and we’re very thankful for the support of our sponsors.”
Only time will tell just how many premiership flags will be Noorat bound this Saturday.