Sunday, August 05, 2007
The Top Two
Those two sides meet again this afternoon in the competition's grand final, to be held at the rather inconvenient location of the CUA stadium in Penrith.
It should be a fascinating game. Both teams have performed steadily throughout the season, Blacktown eventually storming home to collect another minor premiership while Bankstown slipped into second following the extraordinary collapse of the season's surprise packet, APIA Leichhardt (who eventually missed out on the finals series altogether after losing their last three games).
In the end, though, Blacktown were very lucky indeed to make this afternoon's final. Down 2-0 against the unfancied Manly side in the preliminary final, they equalised with a penalty in the last minute before picking off their opposition - who had been reduced to ten men - in extra time.
Bankstown have adapted well to the loss of their midfield general Nahuel Arrarte; in his absence, the underrated Japanese midfielder Hidetaka Ishii has come to the fore, while Daniel Severino continues to be a significant threat from set-pieces. The wing-backs, Shane Webb and Steve Liavas, are probably the best players in the league in their respective positions.
Blacktown are, as always, organised and physically imposing. The striking partnership of Luke Roodenburg and the speedy Tolgay Ozbey has been a constant menace this season; Roodenburg has become a real bête noire for Bankstown fans, following some unsavoury incidents during matches between the two teams this season.
The Demons are not without quality in midfield either, with Gabriel Mendez and Milorad Simonovic providing guile at times.
Come along, if you're in the vicinity. 3 p.m., CUA Stadium, Mulgoa Road, Penrith. There's an intriguing afternoon's football in prospect.