Bays aim to break drought

TOUGH MATCHUP: Central Captain Daniel Marshall and Bays Captain Rohan Mitchell were all smiles ahead of their date with destiny.
TOUGH MATCHUP: Central Captain Daniel Marshall and Bays Captain Rohan Mitchell were all smiles ahead of their date with destiny.

One year after being handed the wooden spoon, Weeroona Bay are primed to break a 25-year A Grade premiership drought on Saturday, with a young and hungry team ready to kick themselves into history.

But to do that they will need to overcome the battle hardened Central Whyalla, the reigning premiers who looked unlikely to return to the promised land after an up-and-down year.

However one stunning upset of WFL juggernauts West Whyalla later, the Roosters find themselves with an unexpected opportunity to claim back-to-back flags.

The last time they were able to accomplish that feat was in 2006-07, back when they were a dominant force in the league and coming off a record streak of six premierships between 1999 and 2004.

They'll face stiff competition from a Weeroona Bay side that, under the leadership of second-year coach Jarrod Starkey, have pulled off a remarkable turnaround from finishing last in 2020.

Last year the Tigers lost their roar, and could only manage one win for the entire season, but Starkey has fostered the belief within the Bays group and helped drive them to a second place finish this year.

Headlined by Jim Hewitson Medallist and Best U21 Player Steve Jackson, the Bays boast a lineup which is both young and quick, with winners all around the ground.

Spearhead Lee Ringland has been vital up forward for the Bays, claiming the Leading Goalkicker Award, while Ned Buckerfield has also been a force in front of goal.

The group is led by veteran captain Rohan Mitchell, who is playing in his third Grand Final with the Bays, and would be desperate to cap his career with a premiership.

Centrals will be bringing a mix of veteran guidance and youthful exuberance to the field, with star players Marko Tansell, Clifford Pickhaver-Tupe and Sam Ellis primed for the big stage.

Having struggled to field a full team during the season due to a mix of player availability and injuries, Central Coach Mark Turner says his side are only missing a couple of players heading into the Grand Final.

"We've had quite a lot of player movement throughout the season, I felt if we had a full side or near a full side then we could challenge anyone," he said.

"Should we win it would show our young playing group the reward that can happen if they put the effort in."

Weeroona Bay Coach Jarrod Starkey says it would be "absolutely brilliant" to win the premiership and end the drought which has left the Bays faithful desperate for a flag. "This has been 25 years in the making...if they can do it, it will be huge for them,"he said.