NCFL grand finalist – BIRCHIP-WATCHEM

NCFL GRAND FINALIST – WYCHEPROOF-NARRAPORT

BIRCHIP-WATCHEM has an opportunity to win its first premiership in 16 years in Saturday’s North Central league grand final.

The Bulls will clash with Wycheproof-Narraport for the flag at Boort.

Birchip-Watchem won its last premiership in 2001 when it defeated Wedderburn by 47 points, making the Bulls the club that has the longest current NCFL premiership drought.

The Bulls, under coach Tom Carland, who took over following the club’s 2013 wooden-spoon season, hit the grand final in their best form of the year.

Having sat outside the top four after 11 rounds the Bulls won their last five home and away games to climb from fifth to second to earn the double chance – not that they needed it.

They continued their momentum into the second semi-final when they dished out a 42-point defeat to Wycheproof-Narrapport to carry a six-game winning streak – in which they have conceded an average of just 42 –  into the grand final.

LEADER: Tom Carland has the chance to become the first Birchip-Watchem premiership coach since Trevor Ryan in 2001 on Saturday. Picture: JASON SMITH

LEADER: Tom Carland has the chance to become the first Birchip-Watchem premiership coach since Trevor Ryan in 2001 on Saturday. Picture: JASON SMITH

Helping the Bulls take the next step from preliminary finalist last year to grand finalist in 2017 have been two of the competition’s marquee recruits in forwards Nathan Gordon and Stephen Paulke, who have combined for 101 goals.

The Bulls will be hoping Gordon – who played 23 AFL games for Sydney (2) and Richmond (21) between 2011 and 2015 – can have as big an impact on Saturday as he did for Balwyn in last year’s Eastern Football League grand final when he kicked five goals and won the best-on-ground medal.

Gordon has kicked 34 goals, while Paulke – a dual league medallist in the powerful Geelong league – has booted 67 goals.

Gordon and Paulke are the only players in the North Central league this year to have kicked a goal in every game their team has played.

Birchip-Watchem’s coach-in-waiting, Lochlan Sirrett, has been super in the ruck as highlighted by his 18 Feeny Medal votes, while midfielder Charlie Hallam is another Bull who has had an impressive 2017.