Pair of Bombers face off in fitting decider

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
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Boxwood Hill's Alex Baum fends off Lake Grace-Pingrup's Jack Carruthers.
Camera IconBoxwood Hill's Alex Baum fends off Lake Grace-Pingrup's Jack Carruthers. Credit: Richard Poulish

In a battle of the Bombers, Boxwood Hill and Lake Grace-Pingrup will meet for the first time in an Ongerup Football Association league grand final, in a highly anticipated 2019 premiership decider in Jerramungup on Saturday afternoon.

The two sides have already met four times this season, with Boxwood winning three of those fixtures, including the recent second semifinal by 10 points.

Apart from the 56-point win to Boxwood in round two, the next three encounters between the two grand final opponents have been close, with Boxwood winning by in round seven by 11 points and Lake Grace-Pingrup turning the tables in round 12 as they got up by nine points.

Boxwood are chasing back-to-back premierships after they thrashed Gnowangerup by 68 points in last year’s grand final, with ruckman Jeremy Walker best on ground.

The most successful period in Boxwood’s history came after breaking a 22-year premiership drought in 2000 under then player-coach Alan Smallwood.

Boxwood played in eight consecutive grand finals, winning six flags in that time.

Smallwood is again coaching Boxwood as he tries to deliver the club more premiership success with a team laden with talent including former Claremont midfielder Isaac Baum, ball winners Tom Bertola and George Bungey, and veteran pair Matt Campbell and Michael Swarbrick.

But the Boxwood coach believes Saturday will be an almighty challenge.

“They have been playing good football and so have we so, it should be a cracker,” Smallwood said. “The last final (second semifinal) was a cracker game of footy — lots of people said how high-quality it was.

“The midfield battle will be one to watch. They’ve got a really good midfield so controlling that and being efficient with the ball is key.”

Boxwood were sweating on the fitness of Alex Baum and Beau Vaux. Vaux has been out for around six weeks.

Lake Grace-Pingrup will play in their fifth OFA grand final, all four previous appearances being against Jerramungup.

They will be chasing their first premiership since 2012, when they beat Jerramungup by two points.

Lake Grace-Pingrup player-coach Luke Bairstow said it was an exciting challenge taking on Boxwood Hill in the grand final.

“I hope it’s a good game, nice and close,” Bairstow said.

“They blew us away in the first round but the other three games could have gone either way.

“They have been such a good side and they bat so deep.

“They have got good ball users so it’s about how much pressure we can apply and limiting their use going forward.”

Only Tyson Prater, who broke a leg early in the season, is missing from Lake Grace-Pingrup’s best team, and Bairstow said their young group was capable of an upset.

“It has been tough since 2012 (premiership),” he said.

“Three Smiths from Pingrup, young Mitchy O’Neill — it’s the youngest team we’ve had in a long time.”

Veteran Alex Duckworth will play his 200th league game for Lake Grace-Pingrup in the decider.

The league grand final will kick off at 2.10pm, with the juniors at 12.35pm and reserves at 11am, with Gnowangerup facing Lake Grace-Pingrup in both those games.

As part of the Ongerup Association sport grand finals, the hockey and netball deciders will also be played in Jerramungup.

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