The defending Premiers and 2008 Minor Premiers Macarthur Rams go head to head this Sunday with their arch rivals NWS Koalas. The Grand Final venue is Cook Park St Mary?s with kick off scheduled for 4pm.
This match promises to be everything a premiership decider should be. These two sides finished level on the competition table, only separated on goal difference. Their four clashes in 2008 have been epic encounters; none moreso than the riveting semi final of a fortnight ago when The Rams equalised in the final moments of extra time before going on to win in a penalty shoot out. The Rams hold a 3-1 advantage in matches with the Koalas this season, a statistic that must give Macarthur some degree of confidence.
The Koalas must be wondering just what fate holds for them in this weekend?s game. In Round 19 they were three minutes from cementing the Minor Premiership when The Rams scored twice to snatch victory. Then the semi final is hijacked by the girls from Campbelltown in the last minute of extra time. Are The Koalas jinxed? Maybe not given that they themselves escaped from oblivion on Wednesday evening with a last gasp goal to deny Marconi Stallions a spot in the Grand Final. The Koalas have been in a position to win every game against The Rams this season. They should take plenty of positive vibes from that fact alone.
This is that classic meeting of the best attacking team versus the best defensive team. Macarthur are very fortunate to have so many goal scoring options amongst their talented squad. If Renee Cartwright doesn?t get you, Stephanie Haim will. If both of those sharpshooters have an off day then Kylie Ledbrook, Sigrid Manty or Claire Walsh may step up to the plate. Oh, I almost forgot. What about The Enforcer, Danielle Brogan? The Big Scary Girl scores goals as well! These are the things that make Macarthur Rams such a formidable opponent. They play a fast, attacking style of game orchestrated by an outstanding midfield General in Kylie Ledbrook. However, their defence is a force to be reckoned with as their Captain, Danielle Brogan, marshals her team mates. Passionate female football lovers could do a lot worse than getting out to Lynwood Park every weekend to watch this fine team in action. Coach Matt Turvey is sure to have his girls primed for a big performance on Sunday. He was noted in the crowd at Wednesday night?s Final running a trained eye over what the opposition had to offer.
The Koalas lose nothing in comparison with their opponents. Talent isn?t in short supply when one looks through The Koalas team list, led by their inspirational Captain Alicia Cavanagh, sparkles with skilful players with the ability to turn a match. Who else but Cavanagh would you expect to step up and slot away the free kick the equalised in extra time for The Koalas last Wednesday night? The Koalas will have concerns over the fitness of both Natalie Spirovski and Adriana Cirjak, who left the field with injury in the Final. Both are important cogs in the wheel that keeps The Koalas in their groove. Anna Mclean has proven dangerous for all opposition sides this season. The experience of players like the two Rachel?s; Doyle and Jones, is complimented by the likes of Lara Neilson and Sanaa Hawkins. The Koalas have also been well served from the bench by the talented super sub Danni Calvi. Calvi has scored some vital goals for her side in recent weeks and could make a big impression when Coach Claude De Francesco brings her into the game. This is a seriously good football side!
The Koalas have been criticised in some quarters this season for being too conservative. It?s felt that they sometimes ?sit on a lead? too early. Critics have felt that they don?t always press home their advantage. Opinions are a dime a dozen. The Koalas lost the Minor Premiership goal difference. Four rounds out from the finals they were four points clear of the pack. Are these the stats of a side that doesn?t know how to win? I don?t think so! The Rams ooze determination. They are a tough, no nonsense side who are never beaten. Completing a double of Minor Premiers/Premiers titles in consecutive seasons will prove a great motivation for them on Sunday.
As a football tragic I look forward to this Grand Final with much anticipation. These two teams have so much to offer. Undoubtedly some of the participants will be involved in the upcoming W League starting in October. This is a meeting of the two best teams in the Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Premier League, served by many of the league?s finest players. What?s not to look forward to?
Who do I think will win? Well, both Coaches have called me in the last few days begging that I tip the opposition. I really thought the sobbing and wailing was a little over the top but, given my tipping record this season, I guess I can understand the angst. I can see plenty of reasons to go either way. I?m going to make Claude De Francesco?s day by plumping for Macarthur Rams to win but I won?t be putting money on it (does Sportstab run odds on the Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Premier League???). This one is really too close to call.
Good luck to both teams on Sunday. This should be a fitting finale to what?s been a wonderful season.
-By Ross Anderson