KNTFL grand final 2018 PREVIEW/TEAM PLACINGS

Will Mundulla come all the way from the elimination final – as Lucindale did last year – to win a record 10th KNTFL A grade premiership on Saturday?

Or will Keith cap off a superb year, where they’ve been widely tipped to be premiers, with their third premiership?

All will be revealed at the Keith oval on Saturday when the KNTFL season winds up with a huge day of grand finals.

The Keith oval is looking great – see the photo evidence here

Any of the top five sides would have been worthy grand finalists this year, but Keith and Mundulla have definitely looked good enough to take out the flag. They both have very solid structures and impressive depth with strong reserves sides backing them.

Some of the match-ups for this game are tantalising, none more so than the two joint league medallists George Thring from Keith and Tim McIntyre lining up in the centre square.

Looking up the field, the Keith spine is imposing, starting with Seamus McMurray at full back, Steve Molineux at CHB, coach Thring in the middle and Alby Dunstan and Ben Simounds in the key forward positions.

Similarly, Mundulla has a settled spine with Tim Ballinger, Matt Schilling and Darcy King sharing the key defensive spots, McIntyre or Jake McGrice in the middle, then a few options up forward but revolving around the marking talents of James Hinge.

Keith is a very well drilled side which plays a zone marshalled by Thring and with defenders like Dave Coghlan and Cody Woolford important in the set-up. Simounds up forward is a key target but young Will McMurray provided a spark in the second semi, while veteran Paul Makin can still take a grab.

The ruck battle will be interesting, with Keith led by James Pitchford whose strength is winning taps, while Mundulla’s lead ruckman Ben Douglas could cause some damage around the ground. 

They will both be supported by excellent midfields who have pace, strength and skill to burn. Mundulla’s McGrice, McIntyre, Nankivell, Gregurke, Wiese, Ridgway and Mosey are all good ball-getters.

Keith’s drive will be generated by Thring and fellow midfield jet Bill Laurie, who was given a role at full back in the second semi but will be released back into the midfield for this one unless he plays on Hinge. Keith midfielders Wilhelm, the two Wilsons, Lehmann and Geyer are also very handy players.

Where will the game be won? The obvious keys are Simounds for Keith and Hinge for Mundulla – two brilliant forwards – but in truth it could be which side has a more even contribution.

Keith’s home ground advantage won’t hurt either, and the Crows will enter the game as narrow favourites.

The first three games on KNTFL grand final day all promise to be great contests.

In the RESERVES final, Naracoorte has won through from the elimination final and will come up against a well-rested Keith side which won the second semi-final in fine style.

Naracoorte has had to replace two talls in Paul McRostie and Brad Hill who were both injured in last week’s win.

Keith has experience and talent on every line and would have to come into the game as favourites based on their form this year and their two finals wins.

Mundulla's A grade forward line star James Hinge takes a finger-tipper last week,

Mundulla's A grade forward line star James Hinge takes a finger-tipper last week,

Keith ruckman Van Den Berg will be very hard to beat with Naracoorte losing its only ruckman McRostie. That will help Keith midfielders Bowering, Heinrich, Blake and Ryan, while Keith forwards Snajdar and Robertson will be tough match-ups.

Naracoorte will be well served by the old brigade of Sellars, Gill, Gould and Donnelly, while a bit of youth from Myall, Foster, Stokie and the two Reeves will add some freshness to the side.

Naracoorte could cause an upset but Keith deserve to be favourites.

In the SENIOR COLTS, Kybybolite has had a stellar year with a draw with Kingston in round 15 its only blemish.

But in an undefeated season, Kyby’s other major scare was in round 13 against this week’s opponent – Penola. In that game, Penola led for the whole game but Kyby came back in the last quarter and scraped through for a nine-point win.

Kyby has beaten Penola comfortably on two other occasions this season, so Penola will be hoping it can repeat that round 13 effort and send shivers through the Kyby line-up with a fierce attack on the ball.

Penola has some top colts in the Porter brothers, the Gartners and Robbie, while Louis Merrett was the league’s leading goalkicker.

Kyby has superb depth with 10-12 colts playing senior football this year, and led by the likes of Castine, Peltz, Black, Owen and Carberry at the goalface, they will be very hot favourites to win this.

In JUNIOR COLTS, Kybybolite has built up an amazing record in recent years, not losing a minor round game since early 2015. As reigning premiers and undefeated minor premiers this year, they will be the red hot favourites this weekend.

Naracoorte is the most improved side in the competition, going from three wins last year to second spot on the ladder this year, and the Demons have some of the top players in the league. Unfortunately key player Darcy McKenny will be missing with injury, but in Sam Thomson, Ben Green and Luke Homan they have some great talent.

Kyby hasn’t stayed undefeated by relying on only a few players and the Tigers have great depth, but in Ollie McInnes, Ben Clyne, Angus McKenzie and Brodie Pratter, they have four of the best.

Naracoorte will give it a great crack, but Kyby will be very hard to beat.

Make sure you visit www.naracoorteherald.com.au, www.coastalleader.com.au and www.borderchronicle,com.au Saturday night for action photos from all the games

This story KNTFL grand final 2018 PREVIEW/TEAM PLACINGS first appeared on Naracoorte Herald.