THE last team to win the BFNL premiership from fourth on the ladder was Golden Square in 2001.
While history says it’s a rare achievement to win from fourth on the ladder, Sandhurst coach Shane Meade wouldn’t have it any other way heading into tonight’s elimination final against Gisborne.
“We’re very comfortable with where we’re at,’’ Meade said yesterday.
“This group plays its best when we’re living on the edge.
“I don’t mind that. It’s good to be under pressure... it brings out the best in you.”
Sandhurst has basically been playing elimination finals for the second half of the season.
After starting the season 0-4, the Dragons had little margin for error as they chased a finals berth.
They’ve won 10 of their past 12 games and are rated by many as the second best side in the league behind Strathfieldsaye. All that counts for nothing if they fall to Gisborne tonight.
“Gisborne is a very good team, but we’re confident we can get the job done,’’ Meade said.
The Dragons decided not to risk star midfielder Jon Coghlan (quad).
“He was very close, but we made a decision not to take injured players into the game,’’ Meade said.
Gisborne has its own injury woes. Full-forward Matt Knox (hip) won’t play again this season, while forward Tom May (leg) needs to pass a fitness test before being declared a certain starter tonight.
Gisborne suffered a 39-point thumping from Sandhurst six weeks ago.
That day the Sandhurst’s midfield group ran riot.
“Last time Sandhurst beat us Tim Martin smacked us in the ruck,’’ Fitzgerald said.
“Tom Waters didn’t play in either of those games. If we can break even with Martin I’m hoping we can limit the damage Sandhurst’s midfielders can do.
“Stagg, the Wharton brothers, Dole – they’ve got as good a midfield as there is.
“They run really hard and if you give them space they’ll hurt you.
“Sandhurst’s forwards are dangerous, but the best way for us to stop them is to close down the run in the Sandhurst midfield.”
Gisborne defender Cam Medica will play his 150th senior game tonight.
“He’s a Gisborne boy through and through,’’ Fitzgerald said.
“He played all his junior footy at Gisborne and, aside from going overseas for two years, he’s played all his senior footy at Gisborne.
“He’s a great player and person. He could get more money playing elsewhere, but he loves playing for Gisborne.”