Sunday showdown

RELATED: Grand final teams

SALE will be playing to win back-to-back senior football premierships for the first time since the 1950s when it meets Morwell in the Gippsland League grand final on Sunday.

The last time the Magpies won consecutive flags was in 1954 and 1955, the first two seasons of the Latrobe Valley Football League, as it was then known.

The Magpies will be playing for their 11th premiership in this league and 21st overall.

On the other hand, Morwell will be playing for its eighth senior flag and its first since defeating Sale in the 1996 grand final.

Sale has without question been the measuring stick of the competition over the past two seasons, winning 37 of its past 39 matches.

Sale and Morwell have been the stand-out teams this year. Apart from Wonthaggi sitting in second spot after round 10, the Magpies and Tigers have occupied the top two rungs on the ladder.

Sale comfortably won its two matches against Morwell this year.

In round nine, the Magpies ended the Tigers’ unbeaten start to the season with a 34-point win. The Tigers did lead narrowly at quarter-time, but the Magpies took control after the first break.

In round 18 under lights at Sale, the Magpies only conceded four goals on their way to a 122-point rout. That night, the Tigers were looking ahead to the finals and were missing the likes of coach Harmit Singh, former AFL player Tarkyn Lockyer, ruckman Tom Crosby and on-baller Jeff Ryan.

That big loss and a qualifying final loss to Maffra had some critics writing off Morwell’s premiership chances, but the Tigers bounced back with wins over Wonthaggi and Maffra to advance to the grand final.

In the past two matches, the Tigers only conceded a total of 16 goals.

Last weekend, the Tigers put pressure on Maffra, barely giving the Eagles room to move.

The Morwell defence, led by Jack Brown, Michael J. Duncan, Tom Hutton and Campbell MacInness, will need to be on song again this Sunday against Magpies coach Matt Ferguson, Mitch Davis, Justin McLay and Jacob Schuback.

Sale out-played Maffra in the second semi-final a fortnight ago to book the first place in the grand final. It was a tight match in the wet, but the Magpies worked harder and stood-up went it counted most.

The Magpies’ defence was again miserly. Since round 11, Sale has only conceded at least 10 goals once.

The back line of Jordan Dessent, Ryan Pendlebury, Chris Laverty, Andrew Quirk and Shane Fyfe has been a force to be reckoned with, shutting down opposition sides.

Morwell will need to find ways through the Magpies’ defence with Dean Macdonald, Mannon Johnston and Lachlan Dowling needing to find space to lead into.

The Tigers will look to copy their efforts of last weekend, when their forwards applied defensive pressure, making it difficult for Maffra out of its back line.

Whoever is able to crack the opposition defence will most likely be holding the premiership aloft on Sunday night. The midfield battle will be crucial factor in this.

Luke Collins, Kane Martin, Shannen Lange, Josh Dunkley, Nash Holmes and Brenton Rees can all cause damage for the Magpies if left unchecked.

Restrict their impact and you restrict the delivery into Sale’s potent forward line.

The Tigers will look to Joel Soutar, Adam Bailey, Ryan and Lockyer, who were outstanding in the preliminary final.

Crosby will also play a vital role in the ruck for the Tigers against Jack Lipman.

It will be fourth occasion the clubs have met in a senior grand final. Sale has won two of those, including the last one in 2008.

Sale has a good strike record when contesting grand finals in this league, winning 10 of 15, while Morwell has won seven from the same number of appearances.

Gippsland League grand final draw

Sunday at Ted Summerton Reserve, Moe:

Seniors: Sale v Morwell, 2.30pm.

Reserves: Warragul v Wonthaggi, 12.30pm.

Under 18s: Bairnsdale v Traralgon, 10.30am.

Under 16s: Sale v Traralgon, 8.30am.