IT will be a familiar scene at Serpentine on Saturday – the red and white of Bridgewater playing in the Loddon Valley league grand final.
Saturday will be the Mean Machine’s eighth grand final in a row.
The powerhouse side has played in every grand final since 2010 and won them all to establish what’s now the greatest streak of premiership success in Loddon Valley history of seven.
The Mean Machine’s opponent on Saturday is the club their remarkable run of success started against in 2010, Calivil United.
While the Mean Machine are through to another grand final, the path hasn’t been as smooth sailing as previous years.
Granted, Bridgewater did qualify the same way it has the previous seven years by winning the second semi-final, but the side has lost that aura of invincibility given it was beaten five times during the home and away season and at round eight was outside the top five.
To put the five defeats into perspective, the Mean Machine had only lost a total of eight games the previous seven seasons, while they will go into Saturday with three less wins for the year than their opponent.
Coach Marc Lindsay’s team may not have had the same level of dominance as recent years as a 13-5 record attests, but what hasn’t wavered is Bridgewater’s ability to stand up in the big moments of finals football.
The Mean Machine have shown that twice already this finals series when they came from 15 points down late in the final quarter of the qualifying final to beat Newbridge by two points; and when they turned a 15-point half-time deficit into a nine-point second semi-final win over Calivil United.
Veterans Daniel Nalder, Deon Jones and former captain Darren Clutton each have the opportunity to play in their eighth-straight premiership as part of the club’s remarkable run, while at the other end, Xavier Henderson, 17-year-old Lachlan Mangan, Liam Jacques, Daniel Symes, Kevin Bloom, Nick Hall and inclusion Jack Symons are lining up in their first senior grand finals.
Ruckman David Harrison was ineligible for selection after this week being suspended by the tribunal for four matches, while the experienced Rick Ladson, who has battled a hip injury this year, returns for what will be his swansong.