K rock Football

Centrals ready for return bout

Werribee Centrals coach Nick Smith speaks to his players during last week’s first semi-final win over Inverleigh. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

WERRIBEE Centrals coach Nick Smith says he “well and truly wore that tape out” in reviewing the five-point qualifying final loss to Bannockburn.

The Centurions will look to book a berth in the GDFL Grand Final for the first time since 2010 when it takes on the Tigers in Saturday’s preliminary final at St Albans Reserve.

Centrals won its first final in nine years in beating Inverleigh a with an after-the-siren goal from Josh Sutton on Sunday.

However, it’s the second meeting with Bannockburn in a fortnight that Smith has had his focus on.

“We’ve got our learning from that a couple of weeks back,” he said. We were hoping to get another chance (at Bannockburn) like we have.

“We’re certainly going to do things significantly different, and we think we’ve learnt a lot from that loss.

“We’re looking forward to going out and playing differently and getting a different result.”

However, if that result doesn’t change and the Centurions fall short of the grand final, Smith knows the foundation has been laid for the club to be competitive for years to come.

“We feel like we’re a fair way ahead of what we thought we were capable of during the year,” he said.

“When we were 4-4 and a game behind North Geelong at that point, so we’re certainly well aware that we’ve come storming home.

“We’ve played some great footy in the second half of the year. We had a hit a bump in the road in our first crack at finals footy.

“Then we’ve managed to pull off an exhilarating win to get another step closer. So, I think most of us are just pinching ourselves.”

The Centurions look set to take a similar line-up to the one that defeated the Hawks into Saturday’s clash, with Smith set to resist the temptation to bring in talented youngster Connor Linehan-Cunningham after he missed last week.

“To be honest, it’s just a big risk with him,” Smith said. “At his best, he’s fantastic and easily in our 18.

“But, we just haven’t been able to get any full games out of him. And it’s a big risk to go in and end up one down early in a prelim final.”

Twitter: @tom_king79
Email: [email protected]