By James Szabo
Bragging rights as the equal most successful girls team in the Herald Sun Shield competition will be up for grabs this weekend when Methodist Ladies College (MLC) meet Ballarat Grammar in the Division One Girls Grand Final on August 6.
Having each claimed the title in the previous two seasons, victory for either side would equal them with Hallam Senior College as the most successful side in the competition’s short history.
The girl’s division, which was created as an extension to the AFL Victoria Herald Sun Shield competition established in 1977, has produced three separate winners since the inaugural 2012 season.
Hallam Senior College holds the most titles after winning back-to-back Shields in 2012 and 2013, Ballarat Grammar lifted its first Shield in 2014, while MLC remain the reigning premiers after claiming their first win last year.
With both sides progressing through to the big stage after impressive semi-final performances, Ballarat Grammar’s Director of Sport Dean Rossato, said he expects a tough contest on Saturday.
“We are coming up against MLC in the Grand Final for the third year in a row so we know they’re a good side,” said Rossato.
“They’ve got depth and talent, so it will be a very interesting and tight encounter. I’m sure it will be a great match.
“Matt Hanlon and his assistant, Keitha Theodore, put in an enormous amount of time and effort in the training, team and preparation for games.
“The two of them have been the backbone and do an amazing job year after year.
“The win would mean a lot to everyone… and it would just be a great reward for effort.”
MLC coach Michael Duke said his side is looking forward to the opportunity to play in the Grand Final rematch.
“Ballarat is a great side, they were great competition last year and I’m sure it will be pretty close once again and I think it could go down to the wire,” said Duke.
“It’s quite a big thing that they’ve been building up – there’s always someone talking about it at school which is creating a lot of excitement amongst the players.”
Having faced each other in the last two Grand Finals, Duke said his team cannot afford to rest on the success of the previous season and will need to produce their best football if they are to take home the ultimate prize once again.
“We’re a very versatile team this year and our strength is probably our running ability.
“We are quick and highly skilled and we’ll be hoping to try and run Ballarat off their feet and hold our own in the contests.
“We’re excited about playing in one of the best competitions for girl’s football…and I’m quietly confident.”
The 2016 Herald Sun Shield Division One Girls Grand Final kick off from 12noon at RAMS Arena (Craigieburn) on Saturday August 6.