A SCINTILATING preliminary final looms between North Warrnambool and South Warrnambool, with both clubs desperate for the chance to take on reigning premier Koroit next week.
The showdown at Gardens Oval will pit the two clubs against each other for the second time this final series, after the pair played out a thrilling drawn qualifying final which was eventually won by the Eagles in extra time.
It was the perfect start to a long-anticipated finals return for the competition, which hadn’t staged a post-season since 2019, and came after the two sides had produced entertaining affairs during the home and away campaign.
First-year Eagles big man Nathan Vardy has come to learn of the hype associated with the pair’s growing rivalry and is expecting another enthralling battle to play out.
“As the year has gone on I’ve slowly worked out what rivalries look like in the competition and have got a feel of how these opponents come each week,” he said.
“It’s definitely a big clash between the two clubs. We’re obviously one and one during the season, they touched us up pretty convincingly late in the year and the first final could have gone either way.
“It’s obviously going to be hard for you lot (the media) to pick a winner but we’re really looking forward to the contest.
“We know we’ve got a few things we’ve got to work on from last time and South we’ll be in the same boat but fingers crossed we can find ourselves in front at the final siren.”
The Eagles hopes of victory have also been boosted by the return of key players Dylan Parish and Billie Smedts for the contest, inclusions Vardy welcomed.
“Dylan’s obviously had a pretty tough year mentally I think with a lot of niggling injuries that have put him out for periods of time during the year,” he said.
“I think he’s pretty pumped to be back at this time of year and he’s a pretty pivotal part of our line-up, he straightens us up forward.
“Billie was a bit sore (last week) and given the second chance we thought we’d take the conservative approach, so he’ll be a definite starter this week.
“We missed them last week and have missed them both in patches during this year but it’s going to be great to have them back.”
The Roosters have added their own pair of playmakers, with Josh Saunders and Archie Stevens set to bolster Mat Battistello’s line-up.
Saturday’s clash will be broadcast live on 94.5 3YB FM and live-streamed to the 3YB Facebook page from 2pm.