HAMILTON OLYMPIC coach Michael Bolch is expecting a fiery start to the NBN State League grand final against local rivals Broadmeadow Magic at their home ground Wanderers Oval today.
The teams met two weeks ago in the qualifying semi-final with the Magic dominating the opening half before Hamilton asserted themselves on the game, eventually running out 3-1 victors.
”They surprised us last time with their intensity which I think was a result of us losing focus after having a week off and resting seven or eight players the week before,” Bolch said. ”We lost a bit of momentum last time out and credit where it’s due, they had us on the back foot. But we worked ourselves back into the match and took control in the end.”
Olympic claimed the minor premiership on the back of a 12-match unbeaten run, an outstanding response to a poor start to the season. ”After being on five points from the opening five games this year we’ve done really well to be in the position we’re in now and this grand final is a reward for the boys for all their hard work,” Bolch said.
”The major-minor premiership double is the main goal for every club at the start of the year, and now that it’s within reach, it’s something we’re desperate to achieve. You don’t need much motivation for a grand final, especially for a Hamilton/Broadmeadow grand final.”
Added incentive for Hamilton’s players is the prospect of sending captain Mat Austin into retirement in style. The 36-year-old defender has been a stalwart with the club, claiming five titles with Hamilton, with coach Bolch aware how this could motivate his players.
”For sure it will motivate them, but they don’t need any more motivation. They’re in the grand final. Mat’s such a professional, every time he goes out there he delivers a professional and disciplined performance.”
It will also be the last game for right-back Joel Witherdin who has signed with Oakleigh Cannons.
Hamilton had an injury scare midweek with Witherdin cracking his wrist in training but Bolch is sure he’ll play.
Broadmeadow are struggling with injuries, with striker Peter Haynes battling to prove his fitness after finding hairline fractures in his shoulder.
”Haynes is one of the best strikers in the competition and if he doesn’t play they’ll miss him. But I’m expecting him to play,” Bolch said.
Captain John Bennis will miss the match as well for the Magic with ankle ligament damage while striker Michael Kantarovski will also be absent through suspension.
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