Storm, Dragons young guns to battle for flag on BFNL grand final day

FAMILY RIVALRY: Cousins Jasper Stewart (Sandhurst) and Max Stewart (Strathfieldsaye) will be under-18 grand final opponents on Saturday.
FAMILY RIVALRY: Cousins Jasper Stewart (Sandhurst) and Max Stewart (Strathfieldsaye) will be under-18 grand final opponents on Saturday.

SANDHURST coach Tyrone Jones believes his side’s depth holds the key to beating Strathfieldsaye in Saturday’s BFNL under-18 grand final from 9am at the QEO.

The Dragons are playing in their ninth under-18 grand final in the past 10 years, but it has been the Storm that has won the past two flags.

The Storm and Dragons have been the two yardstick teams this year, with their only losses of the home and away season having been against each other.

“We know Strathfieldsaye is a quality team, but we’ve got plenty of confidence in our boys and believe they can deliver something special on Saturday,” Jones said.

“We think our advantage is we have probably the best last six players of any side in the competition, so our depth is going to be really important.

“And we’re fortunate to have so many good tall players… Jacob Murphy at full-back, Harry Fiske-Kealy is a big body in defence, up forward we’ve got Oscar Perez, Tommy Nunn and Jack Bouwmeester, so hopefully, that height will test Strath.”

One of the Dragons’ key talls is ruckman Darby Graham, this year’s under-18 George Symons medallist.

The Storm will have 10 players from last year’s premiership team lining up again on Saturday.

“Having 10 boys from last year, they have played in a premiership before and that experience is valuable in terms of having composure, particularly early in the game,” Strathfieldsaye coach Bart Leahy said.

Cousins Jasper Stewart and Max Stewart. Picture: NONI HYETT

Cousins Jasper Stewart and Max Stewart. Picture: NONI HYETT

“We’re expecting a really tough game on Saturday. I believe we can get the job done again, but the two teams look evenly-matched.”

Tip – Storm by 20.

• The only football flag that has eluded the Storm so far since it joined the BFNL in 2009 is the reserves.

The Storm get their chance to win their first reserves premiership when they meet Eaglehawk from 11.40am.

“Our pressure is going to be crucial on Saturday and it’s going to be about having a contribution from the whole 22,” Storm coach Dale Cameron said.

One of the players to watch for the Storm will be forward Josh Martyn, who has kicked 85 goals in the reserves this year, including nine in the second semi-final against Sandhurst a fortnight ago.

Eaglehawk, which won its last reserves flag in 2007, has been strengthened by the inclusion of Matthew Higgs, Oscar Madden, Koby Hommelhoff and Jack Lawton.

“When our pressure is up and we’re defending really well, that’s a good sign that we’re on, so that will be the key for us… pressure at the source, our ability to spread and defend and play an attacking brand when we have the footy,” Eaglehawk coach Linton Jacobs said.

Tip – Storm by 18.