Rivals fight for spot on dance floor

Kalangadoo players have much to lose when they take on their arch rivals Port MacDonnell at Glencoe on Saturday afternoon in the Mid South Eastern Football League second semi-final.

Contests between the two are always hard fought but the Magpies have received an additional spur from an unusual source.

The black-and-whites are only two wins away from going through a complete season without a loss. The last team to achieve this feat in the Mid SE was Kalangadoo way back in 1952.

That is almost 60 years ago and it was achieved by the Magpies when there were far fewer teams in the Mid South Eastern Football League.

I am not sure if Nangwarry was playing in the early 1950s and I am sure that Kongorong, Port MacDonnell and Robe were definitely not in the Mid SE.

Other MSE clubs like Glencoe and Mount Burr have got near to going through a season without losing a match with the only loss on grand final day.

In addition to losing their unbeaten status, Kevin Stark’s team does not want to be consigned to the preliminary final at Kongorong on September 11.

Nor do the seasiders, who are being coached for the first time in 2021 by ex-Nangwarry mentor Simon Merrett.

A fresh, emboldened and hungry Hatherleigh await the loser of Saturday afternoon’s contest and the Eagles are desperate to avenge their poor showing in the last major round two years ago.

They won the minor premiership only to lose their two finals.

Both of Saturday’s combatants had several players in the MSEFL team of the year which was named on Sunday afternoon during the Mail Medal function at the Millicent War Memorial Civic and Arts Centre.

Kalangadoo was represented by Michael Krieger, Ben Gregory, Mitch Lowe, Andrew Stone, Tye McManus and Lachy Jones.

Stark was coach of the year, Krieger was the leading goal kicker and Mail Medal third place-getter McManus was also the winner of the Bill Hanel Memorial Trophy as the best player under 21 years of age.

Port MacDonnell’s representatives were assistant coach Kevin Thomson, Daron Mcelroy, Dylan Bromley and Tim Sullivan.

Although Kalangadoo won the 2021 minor premiership by five percentage points and three wins and is a warm favourite, there are plenty of boxes which are yet to be ticked by the Magpies.

How will they cope without competition-leading forward Michael Krieger who broke his leg in the last minor round game at Glencoe?

He had booted nine goals against the Murphies before fate cruelly intervened and he left the venue via an SA Ambulance Service vehicle.

What are the fitness levels of past coaches Ben and Chris Mules who have played only a handful of games in recent weeks?

That being said, there are even more question marks over the ability of the Demons to win this double chance final.

Chiefly they have had their colours lowered in both minor round matches.

Port MacDonnell’s tall timber in Will Macdonald, Dylan Bromley, Daron McElroy and Tim Sullivan should control the aerial duels.

Nevertheless, it is my nagging suspicion that Kalangadoo will win as they will adapt quicker to the pressure-cooker atmosphere of finals footy.

The figures show the Magpies have the most potent attack and tightest defence.

Furthermore, the Glencoe Oval holds no fear for them as they have lost few games there in the past decade or so when the Max Matthews Memorial Cup has been up for grabs.

There is the huge incentive to have an extra week’s rest and avoid playing Hatherleigh.

The opening final of 2021 was a heart-stopper between Hatherleigh and Robe at Mick and Jean Walker Oval at Mount Burr and I expect this weekend’s encounter to be no different.

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