Broadmeadow Magic vs Lambton Jaffas
Sunday September 8, 3.00pm
One is a seasoned NBN State League Grand Final veteran, the other appearing in their first top-flight decider, but it could mean little when Broadmeadow Magic and Lambton Jaffas meet in the decider on Sunday.
Since 1997 Broadmeadow have appeared in nine Grand Finals, winning six, and will be aiming for their third-straight Grand Final victory here.
If their 4-0 win over Lambton in the Major Semi Final is anything to go by, another trophy should be fairly straightforward.
But scorelines can often be deceiving, and perhaps this was the case a fortnight ago.
The Jaffas were desperately unlucky not to go ahead in the second minute when a diving header from John Majurovski was tipped onto the bar by Broadmeadow keeper Chris Bowling.
The Magic shot-stopper again parried a Majurovski effort onto the bar in the second half, and also made a number of key saves.
Broadmeadow Magic coach Robert Virgili, who announced during the week that this would be his final game in charge of the first-grade team, certainly wasn't reading too much into it.
"If anything it (the 4-0 win) will work more in their favour than ours," he said.
"They'll be mentally prepared and switched on for it, and Jobe is going to be a big, big factor."
After earning a bye in the first-week of the finals courtesy of winning the Premiership, Broadmeadow then received another week off after their win in the Major Semi Final.
As a result, they'll go into Sunday at full-strength barring any training mishaps late in the week.
Lambton's finals schedule couldn't have been any more contrasting.
Their qualifying final against Hamilton went a full 120 minutes after the sides were locked a one-apiece, and went on to lose to Broadmeadow the week following.
They again met Hamilton in the final and went another 120 minutes, progressing 4-2 on penalties after extra time was unable to split the sides.
Casualties have built up along the way. Michael Sessions and Paul Devine will almost certainly miss the decider after picking up back and knee injuries respectively in the Qualifying Final.
An ankle injury to Abe Wheelhouse in the final last weekend also appears to have ruled him out.
But it's not all negative. Jobe Wheelhouse's return from suspension will be a huge inclusion for the Jaffas, and Robbie Ambroghetti and Steve Bogdanovski should also return.
Speaking after last Saturday's euphoric penalty-shootout win, Lambton coach David Tanchevski was confident his side would perform far better than they did in the 4-0 loss a fortnight ago.
"The scoreline didn't reflect the result, we were unlucky not to be ahead early on," he said.
"Two of those goals you can't stop.
"I thought the first half was very even, but at 2-0 we starting pushing the game and lost our shape a little bit."
Tanchevski will take heart from the 3-1 victory the Jaffas claimed in Round 10 thanks to goals from Abe Wheelhouse, John Majurovski and Terry Dries.
The two sides have met a total of three times this season, with Broadmeadow claiming a 1-0 win in Round 1 thanks to Hakan Canli's late winner, plus the 4-0 win a fortnight ago.
With form, injuries and finals experience, everything points toward Broadmeadow claiming the fourth Premiership/Grand Final Win double in their history.
But grand finals often do not go to script, and in Majurovski and Wheelhouse Lambton have big-game experience of their own.
It builds to what is certain to be an intriguing fixture on Sunday, and a fitting finale to what has been a bumper NBN State League season.