THE pressure of a grand final can be too much for some teams, but for others it’s their time to shine. Here are 10 of the best teams to watch over the next two weeks, those who know just how to perform in the biggest game of the year.
Kerang will play its 10th straight Central Murray grand final this weekend against Woorinen. It has won six of the nine so far, including the past five in a row. Kerang was undefeated in 2012, and from then to last season, had 83 wins, six losses and one draw.
2. BELL POST HILL
You have to go back to 2007 to find the last time Bell Post Hill failed to qualify for the Geelong and District grand final. Bell Post Hill has won six of the past nine grand finals, and will need to beat minor premier Inverleigh to make it seven from 10.
Albury is preparing for its ninth successive Ovens and Murray grand final and hopes to add to premierships in 2009 to 2011, and 2014 to 2016. From the start of the 2009 season until today, Albury’s record is 164 wins, 17 losses and a draw.
Navarre won 50 games straight between 2013 and mid-last season, and the past four Maryborough Castlemaine District premierships. Through to its seventh straight grand final, Navarre will play Carisbrook, which it beat in the past three grand finals.
Last year the Kyabram Bombers became the second team in Goulburn Valley league history to win the flag undefeated (Nagambie did it in 1939). The Bombers are undefeated since the start of 2016 and one win away from a faultless season.
Tungamah has been a true force in the Picola and District league in the past decade, with five premierships from seven grand finals. The Bears did not lose a game in the 2014 or 2015, and won 48 games in a row between mid-2013 and the 2015 grand final. They face Rennie in the grand final.
7. NORTH GAMBIER
North Gambier is through to its seventh straight Western Border grand final. North Gambier played off against West Gambier in 2011, then won consecutive premierships from 2012 to 2014, breaking a drought going back to 1989.
Horsham Demons’ era of success includes 10 Wimmera league flags in a row from 2003 to 2012 (it added the 2014 premiership later). Missing just the 2013 and 2016 grand finals since 2003, the Demons are in familiar territory this year, and will meet Minyip Murtoa or Warrack Eagles in the decider.
In 2012, Glenrowan did not win a game in the Ovens and King season. The next year it finished fourth and played in a grand final, and now it has won the past three flags. Its grand final opponent on Saturday is Benalla All Blacks, which did not win a game back in 2015.
10. SOUTHERN MALLEE GIANTS
The Giants are undefeated since joining the Horsham District league last year. The club’s first season in 2015 after a Beulah-Hopetoun merger in 2015 was unexceptional, but they have been unstoppable since, and face Harrow Balmoral in this year’s grand final.
KEEP AN EYE ON KOROIT: Still in the hunt to play its fifth straight Hampden grand final and win its fourth consecutive premiership, but must overcome Cobden in the preliminary final first.