Dragons play down talk of flag favourites

LEADERS: Sandhurst captain Blair Holmes and first-year coach Wayne Primmer at Wednesday's grand final press conference. Picture: DARREN HOWE

LEADERS: Sandhurst captain Blair Holmes and first-year coach Wayne Primmer at Wednesday's grand final press conference. Picture: DARREN HOWE

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FAVOURITES?

What favourites says Sandhurst coach Wayne Primmer ahead of this Saturday’s Bendigo Football-Netball League grand final against Golden Square.

The Dragons head into the grand final at the QEO as the team that finished on top of the ladder with a 16-2 home and away record, have won their past 13 games and beaten Golden Square in all three encounters this year, including by 53 points in the second semi-final.

But at Wednesday’s grand final press conference, Primmer was quick to play down any favoritism talk around his Dragons as they prepare to chase the club’s first premiership since 2004.

“When there’s talk that we start favourites, that’s only you people who say that. I don’t interpret that we’re favourites because when I walk out onto the ground on Saturday and look at the scoreboard, I see we’re zero zero each,” Primmer said.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s an even game, and whichever side basically can play for the longer time of the four quarters will probably come out in front.”

Saturday will be the Dragons’ third-consecutive grand final.

The past two years the Dragons were beaten by Strathfieldsaye by margins of 55 and seven points in what were games where Sandhurst had gone in as outsiders.

“The first year we felt like we were happy to get to the grand final. We had played a big preliminary final against Gisborne and went in with a lot of injuries,” Sandhurst captain Blair Holmes said.

“Last year we felt we were a good side and building, but unfortunately, lost by a goal.

“This year with a few new guys into our list and more experience with the guys over the past couple of years – about 90 per cent of the team that will run out will have played in either of the past two grand finals – that is a key for us.

“We’ve just got to play the footy we have all year, but in particular the past six weeks when we’ve really knuckled down and that’s the style of play we want to play on the weekend.”

Unlike the past two grand finals when Sandhurst had to play three lead-up finals, this year the Dragons have the benefit of having taken the direct route into the decider via the second semi-final.

“We’ll find out on the weekend if it has been a benefit or not, but having played some of the top five sides in our last few home and away games where there was some physical football in those games, our bodies were pretty battered, so having the week off in the first week of the finals was a huge benefit,” Holmes said.

“And the week we’ve just had off now, everyone has freshened up, so at the moment we feel it’s a key and a pretty big benefit from the past two years when we had gone in and been under the pump body-wise with knocks and bruises.”

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