Once the two easy beat teams of the league, they have now become powerhouse clubs, and just like a Geelong V Hawthorn game the encounters between the reigning premiers Mid Canterbury Eagles and the previous winners the Christchurch Bulldogs are hotly contested affairs.
The replay of last years Grand Final for this years Premiership this Saturday at Northwood Park at 2.30pm expects to be just as fierce. With some key player defections in 2011 from the Bulldogs to the Eagles the niggle and intent between these two hard working clubs has added a little bit more spice to their games.
So far in 2012 the Eagles defeated the Doggies by 68 points in the first round. In round 4 the Doggies returned the favour and thumped the Eagles by 94 points and in round 6 it was Eagles 121 to the Doggies 63 in hail, sun, rain and wind in the CAFL roadtrip to Ashburton.
So each team can turn it on when it counts, but will that be Saturday, it’s their last chance.
Key matchups would be in the centre with the Eagles rep player Josh Robles McGill very dangerous left to his own devices, whilst the super boot of Ethan Church can slot a goal on the run from inside the square. The Eagles will use their main playmaker Simon Carden to good effect through the middle and wings but expect to see the Doggies Irish gaelic football convert Stevo McCarron to be equally damaging if left to roam.
Up front Ricky Van Olphen has had a decent season against the others but competing against arguably the CAFL’s best fullback James Stevenson will be a hard task.
With the Eagles potent running players and the Bulldogs dominant back line expect Saturdays encounter to be spectacular, bruising and dramatic.
With the two clubs having come so far you wouldn’t expect anything else.
At 12.30pm the third versus fourth play off is between the University Cougars and Eastern Blues.
Steve Langridge CAFL
For more information on Northwood Park, the location of the grand final, please visit this link.