The Batemans Bay Seahawks will host the ADFA Rams this Sunday afternoon at Hanging Rock Oval for a place in the AFL Canberra grand final.
The matchup is a slight surprise for the Seahawks, who were originally expecting to play the Woden Blues on Sunday. However, that plan was scuppered when Woden lost to ANU by 11 points in last weekend’s elimination final.
Seahawks captain/coach Mick Kenny said the team made the effort to get to Canberra last weekend to watch the elimination finals.
“The Canberra boys had a training session up there on Saturday morning, and we ran one down here as well,” he said. “We headed up after that to watch the Woden game as a big group.
“It was a good bonding experience being able to sit back and relax on our weekend off. A few of the boys went over and watched the ADFA game as well, so we fell pretty prepared for this weekend.”
Kenny said the unexpected opponent wouldn't change much in terms of the team’s preparations.
“The team will stay pretty much as it would have been if we were playing Woden,” he said. “The game plan will change a little bit, because they’re a very different side to Woden.
“Woden plays a big territory game, whereas ADFA rely on their run and carry on the outside. We’ll just concentrate on winning the ball on the inside, getting first use of the footy, and hurting them on the back of that.”
Contested footy has been the Seahawks big focus at training this week, as Kenny sees a distinct advantage in that part of the game.
“That contested ball, and the physical side of things is ADFA’s weakest point,” he said. “We had a big focus on winning the inside ball, and being really smart with it.
“If you get your hands on the ball first, you get more opportunities to score. If we can win the contested ball, we’ll go a long way to winning the game.”
Kenny will have a full list to pick from for this match, with the exception of one key midfielder.
“Sam Hodges it out this weekend, he had a pre-planned trip away, and he’s been a really crucial part of our setup this year,” Kenny said. “Having said that, we’re bringing in a good young kid in Lachlan Croke who definitely deserves his crack this weekend.”
Kenny hopes to have a big crowd down at Hanging Rock on Sunday to cheer his side on.
“This year when we’ve had big crowds, we’ve played some really good footy,” he said. “When we played Molonglo at home, we ha a massive crowd and the boys responded really well.
“Playing in front of your friends and family is special, but when it’s a massive crowd down to support you in a preliminary final, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
No matter how the match ends on Sunday, Kenny said the season has to be considered a success.
“It’d be pretty disappointing if we lost this weekend, because we’ve done all the hard work to get ourselves into the top-two for a home prelim,” he said. “Having said that, I don’t think you could call the season disappointing considering how much we’ve improved this year.”