By Matt Fotia
Yarra Junction coach John Holmes knows that the 2018 Premiers best football is hard to stop, but admits Seville are the most deserving of the week off in the Division Two Finals Series this year, after the Blues knocked off his Eagles by 16 points at Healesville in last weekends Second Semi Final.
The 2018 Grand Final rematch was an enthralling encounter with both sides having their fair share of momentum on a magnificent, albeit windy, Saturday afternoon in the Valley.
“It was a good game to be involved in to be honest, we knew they were always going to be tough, they’ve probably had the best side in the division since we played them in round five,”
“We just weren’t good enough for long enough – they were always going to keep coming, the momentum kept changing and they had it at the right time.”
Both sides struggled with the wind in the first quarter, with the Eagles kicking 2.5 in the opening term despite having the breeze at their backs. Holmes lamented their panicked ball movement in the early stages which kept the door ajar for the star studded Blues.
“The first quarter definitely cost us a little bit,”
“It was a tricky wind, but we didn’t play how we wanted to play in that first quarter, we were just bombing long, didn’t settle quick enough and play how we wanted to play,”
“Then in the last quarter (Nathan) O’Keefe found some form and away they went.”
O’Keefe booted six goals, including three in the last quarter, whilst ex Collingwood and Gold Coast Sun Josh Fraser also caused chaos in the Seville forward fifty.
Conversely Yarra Junction’s key forwards – Tyson Wheeler and David Johnson – had quiet afternoons, with only Wheeler finding the goals (twice) and the usually prominent Johnson failing to impact the game, both up the ground and inside fifty.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we moved that football that’s for sure,”
“(Jack) Nolan did a really good job on Skave (Johnson) but in saying that we played to his strengths by putting it on his head,”
“Skave knows he’s got to get moving more, but we also allowed them a loose man most of the day and (Adam)Oxley kept cleaning up all of our long bombs,”
“We’ll try and rectify that this week.”
The Eagles face local rival Powelltown in the Preliminary Final this weekend at Monbulk. The Demons finished fifth on the home and away ladder after a near perfect final month and have carried that form into finals, knocking off Gembrook-Cockatoo and Kinglake on their way to the penultimate game of the year.
Holmes knows the Demons will be stern test for his side, with the sides having a 1-1 record against each other in 2019.
“They’ve got a lot of experienced heads and to be honest when we played them at our ground we gave them a touch up and it’s probably been their last bad game,”
“They’re in form, they’ve got some good key backs and we’ve got to use they ball better.”
The Eagles haven’t played at the Monbulk Football Ground in a few years with the sides being separated amongst the divisions, but Holmes says the ground will part the smallest of parts in Saturday’s result and knows at their best his Eagles are a force to be reckoned with.
“Troy Armstrong ( Junction ruckman) played there for three or so years, so that’ll help us and a few of the boys have played their throughout the years,”
“But at the end of the day it’s finals football – It just comes down to whether or not you can execute your skills and crack in for long enough.”
“When we play our game we are pretty hard to stop.”