The Dysart Bulls will be hoping to equal a 26-year record, aiming to become undefeated premiers when they face the resilient Bluff Rabbitohs in today’s Central Highlands Rugby League Purcell’s Engineering Men’s decider.
Not since 1993, when the Clermont Bears completed the impressive feat, has an A Grade team gone through the season without losing a game; however, they will be facing grand final experts Bluff, who will feature in their third consecutive grand final and their fourth of the five previous deciders.
The red and whites certainly have the wood over the Rabbitohs, winning all three encounters by big margins; 52-10 in Round 1, 44-18 in Round 8 and 44-12 in last fortnight’s major semi final.
The home side’s advantage is most notably their speed on the edges with centre Josh Kilpatrick bagging a five-try haul against the Rabbitohs in his last outing, and his centre partner Jesse Johnson also contributing with a four-pointer to add to his table-topping 18 other times he’s crossed the chalk.
The Bulls’ spine consisting of former Capra Reece Baker at fullback and Highlands rep players Phil Derksen, Mitch Power and Clayton Kilpatrick will also be firing with plenty of big game experience among the four generals.
Bluff might not have the speedy strike weapons to match their opponents, but they should dominate the battle up front with their hulking, yet dynamic forward pack.
Experienced prop Josh Rovelli has been named to start, pushing explosive forward Leigh Coghill to the back row – the former Intrust Super Cup representative troubling opposition teams with his ability to draw defenders into tackling him before elusively offloading.
The Rabbitohs will also lean on experienced halfback and bush footy legend Mitch Wyatte, who is remarkably lining up for his 14th decider.
Dysart would have to start favourites, but grand finals can produce funny results - just ask the Rabbitohs in 2014 when they were upset at home by Clermont as they were also aiming to become undefeated premiers that year.
Preceding the Men’s clash will be a rematch of last year’s Allied Pickfords Women’s premiership finale, with Blackwater aiming to go back-to-back against the Brothers Cowgirls who are out to avenge last year’s narrow six-point loss.
With a new top three women’s finals system this season, the Crushettes advanced straight through to the decider after finishing top of the ladder and have defeated the Cowgirls’ three times to one; although, two of those matches were forfeits.
Both sides are relatively unchanged from last year’s matchup – the only two movements being utility Mackenzie Beames and Brisbane Broncos’ Mariah Storch moving from the Crushettes to Cowgirls.
All eyes are on whether Storch will be given the green light from the NRLW club to feature in today’s decider.
Blackwater will benefit being the fitter side, however the Cowgirls have more star power.
It’s expected this game will go down to the wire again like last year with pundits left guessing on who will claim victory.
The action starts at 4pm with the Under 14 Girls final between Dysart and Tigers, followed by the Women's at 5.30pm and Men’s at 7.30pm.
Both games will be live streamed on the Central Highlands Rugby League Facebook page.
*Main image courtesy of Melissa Macklin Photography