Pies prepare for fierce rivals

Hot favourite Sale is expected to win this week’s Gippsland League grand final, but history is against it.

Maffra is the most successful side of the past decade, having competed in nine of the past 11 grand finals, winning seven premierships along the way.

In their past three meetings this season Sale has won with authority by 60 and 79 points in the home and away season and 38 points in the second semi-final.

On form Sale should win but grand finals are a different ball game.

It will be interesting to see if the Magpies can absorb the pressure against a side with a lot more experience in playing and winning these types of matches than they have.

Last week the Eagles won the closest preliminary final in the league’s history when they beat Leongatha by a point while Sale had the luxury of a rest.

Maffra will regain the services of the experienced Kallan Killoran, probably at the expense of Josh Davis, and Sale should have midfielders Luke Collins and Corey Scholtes back on deck.

There could be a doubt about Maffra’s star forward Adrian Burgiel, who was limping noticeably at the end of last week’s game. 

It is hard to see him not reaching match fitness for the big one.

Sale’s backline is the best in the league and no team has scored more than 12 goals against them and won except Morwell.

Not much has got past Andrew Quirk, Shane Fyfe, Jordan Dessent, Chris Laverty and Ryan Pendlebury.

For Maffra to beat Sale, Jack Tatterson and Daniel Bedggood need to play better than they did against Leongatha. 

Both are more than capable forwards and have been match winners on their day.

Maffra’s “Sam” line of defence in Sam Walker, Sam Bristow and Sam Tudor are bustling defenders and they get good backup from Ben Batalha, Ryan Foat and Josh Stubbe.

They need that support as Sale’s forwards led by Matt Ferguson and Kane Martin will keep them busy.

Maffra’s midfielders led by Kelvin Porter, Ben Coleman and the experienced Winston Gieschen have a tough task in curbing Luke Collins, Corey Scholtes and Russell McAdam.

This will be an intriguing match but winning form is good form and Sale should take this one out.