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GVHA grand final previews - B-men and B-women

Benalla’s Goulburn Valley Hockey Association B-men’s division dynasty goes on the line today at McEwen Reserve. Rarely does a team chasing a third premiership in a row goes into a grand final as anything other than a raging favourite, but the Tigers — by their own admission — concede Echuca-Moama has been the most impressive team in the competition this season. But that does not mean Benalla is giving up hope of success. ‘‘They’re all keen, they’re all excited,’’ Roxanne Dowe, who presided over Benalla’s last two flags as club president, said. ‘‘We’ve got some young kids that have played the last couple of years so to make it three for them and the old ones, who a couple are nearing the end of their careers, would be really good.’’ Playing coach Martin Gillies agreed. ‘‘It could go either way, we probably are the underdogs in the sense that Echuca hasn’t lost a game this year, but it comes down to heart and determination and I think Benalla’s got that and I think we’re in with a real chance to actually get it,’’ Gillies said. ‘‘The couple of times we’ve played them we’ve been very short and they’ve actually pummeled us quite badly, but I think the first game we played was very tight and very close and the last game we played we were actually leading and they came back and got on top of us.’’ The Tigers defeated Shepparton Youth Club 3-2 last week to win their way through to today’s decider, while the River Rats last took to the pitch on August 25 in a 7-0 win over Mooroopna. ‘‘We haven’t played a lot in recent weeks,’’ Echuca-Moama player Adam Thompson told the Riverine Herald. ‘‘We’ve played twice in the last five or six weeks, which is not ideal. But we’ve earned our opportunity through how we have played this year. ‘‘There is a really good feeling around our group, we have earned our spot in the grand final off some really good form, we went undefeated through the season and that gives us a lot of confidence going into the final.’’ • Echuca-Moama will search for a fourth successive premiership in the B-women’s division when it takes on Mooroopna, although this potential flag would have a different flavour. The past three have been claimed as Echuca-Kyabram, but the River Rats are still keen to add more silverware to their bulging trophy cabinet. ‘‘We’re feeling quite confident about the contest,’’ Echuca-Moama coach Troy Kenny told the Riverine Herald. ‘‘We’ve had a few tough matches against Mooroopna so far this season, it’s put us in a good position for the grand final and now we are really looking forward to the clash. It gives us the feeling we can do something special. ‘‘We’ve gone in not dwelling on the past. ‘‘We’ve been focused on what is happening this season and building ourselves up for having a successful year. We’ve focused on going one week at a time and getting our game right.“ It was Mooroopna the River Rats defeated last season in the grand final, although, when the sides clashed last month, the Cats snared a 4-2 triumph.

Tyler Maher