Mt Barker face in-form Peaks in quest for back-to-back titles
Mt Barker will chase the rare feat of consecutive premierships in the Lower Great Southern Hockey Association men’s A-grade grand final on Saturday night, this time opposed to the red-hot Manypeaks.
After returning to the A-grade ranks last season and securing their first title since 1969, Mt Barker have again been the dominant side of the regular season as they finished on top of the standings and directly qualified for the decider.
Peaks, however, have put together a strong back half of the season, which includes belting their grand final rivals twice and last tasting defeat back in round 9.
Mt Barker star Reece Curwen appears unlikely to take to the field in Saturday’s grand final after only playing eight games this season. The talented midfielder was adjudged best afield in his side’s premiership triumph in 2017.
Experienced Mt Barker player Alex Fergie said the task of beating Peaks was extremely tough given their form over the past six weeks.
“Peaks have been the form team for the last 10 years,” Fergie said.
“They are a really good side who had a slow start to the year but they’ve been the team to beat in the back half of the year. It’s tricky to get a read on Manypeaks but we’ve developed a bit of a rivalry with them, which is good, and they’ll be very tough to beat on Saturday.”
Fergie would not comment on Curwen’s availability but said they would be at full strength with their travelling contingent from Woodaniling, Katanning and surrounds all right to play.
“The Wise brothers, Nic Slade and Adrian Bilney are all very good players,” he said. “Nic has scored the most goals in the season so he is obviously one of our keys but we’ve had a few younger guys from Mt Barker really step up.
“Matt Light in goals, Harry Barbour, Niven Brown, Hayden Macmahon and Brian Williams.”
Peaks played in nine straight grand finals from 2008-16 winning eight titles in the process and captain Hudson Field said his side were gunning to finish the year on a high.
“We’ve hit a good patch late in the season, it’s all come together around finals time,” Field said.
“It would be nice to get a bit of revenge for last year and finish well. We always seem to step up and play well against Mt Barker so it should be a great game.
“They have the ability to score quickly, Nic Slade is dangerous with his flicks and I think whoever scores first and then can defend a lead well will win.”
Peaks have lost Craig Gambrell and Andrew Lister to shoulder injuries and they are likely to have one substitute for the decider, which starts at 6pm.
Brothers Chris and Tim Metcalfe, David and Tim Pyle and goalkeeper Heath Cremasco loom as key players in Peaks’ tilt at another title.
In their meeting this season, Mt Barker won the first two games before Peaks thumped them 5-1 and 9-1, while their most recent encounter finished in a 2-2 draw.
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