One game away from glory

THE only obstacle Sale coach Matt Ferguson envisions between his all conquering side and grand final glory is the occasion itself.

Sale has trounced Maffra by a combined 177 points in its three matches this season, but the Eagles are accustomed to September pressure with nine grand final appearances in the past 11 years.

“There’s a lot of blokes (in the side) that have never played in a grand final before and Sale hasn’t had a lot of success in this league; Maffra have that kind of advantage where they’ve played in a lot of premierships,” Ferguson said.

“Grand finals are about not letting the big stage get to you and playing footy like we have through the year and not turning away from the things that we know have helped us have success.”

One of those things has been Sale’s bulwark backline, whose consistency was rewarded with Shane Fyfe, Jordan Dessent and Ryan Pendlebury all named in the Gippsland League team of the year defence.

“We’ve only had seven players play through our backline and it’s been one of our best in a lot of years; only conceding something like 800 points in the season is a pretty good effort,” Ferguson said.

“It’s (come from) letting them settle and not changing.

“They get used to the way each other play and can form relationships in the team and if you’re going to win a premiership you want to have a strong backline.” 

While the favourite tag is deserved, Gippsland League coach of the year Ferguson knows Maffra will rise to the occasion and was determined to repel its charge.

“Maffra have knocked off Sale in a couple of premierships where we’ve been red hot favourites so you can see that as a deterrent or use it as motivation,” he said.

“Our blokes have just worked so hard this season and I don’t think they’re going to let this one slip.”