Lambton Jaffas FC v Broadmeadow Magic FC
Jack McLaughlan Oval, Edgeworth, Saturday 6pm
After another entertaining season, it all comes down to this Saturday night to see who will be crowned the NPL Men’s NNSW champions when Lambton Jaffas take on Broadmeadow Magic at Jack McLaughlan Oval.
A bumper crowd is expected to watch the two sides go head-to-head under lights in Edgeworth.
This season’s grand final sees the two top-ranked teams meet in the decider for the first time since 2018, when Broadmeadow finished second on the table and knocked off premiers Edgeworth at McDonald Jones Stadium.
That was the last time Magic won a championship, while the Jaffas’ most recent grand final victory was last season when they scored a 1-0 win against Maitland at Number Two Sportsground.
An experienced Lambton Jaffas side filled with players who have been there and done it before will be looking to build on their legacy this Saturday night, while Broadmeadow Magic are full of young players who are determined to make their mark and really announce their arrival on the biggest stage of the season.
It was 10 years ago these two clubs last met in a first-division grand final when Magic outscored Lambton 4-1 in the 2013 NBN State League decider to be crowned champions.
Matt Hoole, Scott Pettit and Josh Piddington all played for Magic that day but are all now Lambton players, while the only remaining Jaffas from their 2013 grand final team are Riley McNaughton and coach David Tanchevski.
For a Jaffas side now eyeing off the club’s maiden NPLM premiership championship double, this season was initially considered a rebuilding year after they lost a handful of players from last year’s grand final-winning team and welcomed some new young players to the club.
Tanchevski’s men were sitting sixth with 10 games to go following a 3-0 loss away from home against Maitland in Round 12 and they were eight points back from league leaders Charlestown Azzurri.
But they turned their season around from that point on as they went on a 10-game undefeated run to pick up 26 of a possible 30 points and finish the campaign on top of the table.
Lambton went into the finals series on a seven-game win streak and they were able to extend that to eight when they defeated Broadmeadow 4-2 in the major semi-final to book their spot in Saturday’s decider.
Jaffas finals win was their third against Magic this season after they prevailed 3-1 when the sides met at Magic Park in Round Five and then 1-0 when they faced off again in Round 16.
Nothing much will change for the Jaffas from the explosive semi-final victory over Magic. They went into that match without Luke Remington and Finn Toddhunter (injured), Josh Piddington (suspended) and Sakeel Brown (overseas), and those four will still be unavailable for the big dance.
Tanchevski, who coached the Jaffas to their maiden NPLM championship at Jack McLaughlan Oval in 2014 said he and his men were looking forward to Saturday’s decider.
“It was good to come back to the club this year and it has really felt like being back home, to be honest. To win the premiership and be in the grand final in my first year back is exciting,” Tanchevski said.
“It’s a very dangerous game this weekend. Broadmeadow are the best team in the comp that we could have played against. They are a good young side with lots of ex-Jets kids. They are very mobile and play good football. It’s going to be a close contest, I think.
“We’ve had good results against them this year but we won’t be complacent. The games against Magic have been close games and could have gone either way. We’ll make sure our boys turn up knowing it’s going to be a tough game.”
The Jaffas had last weekend off while Broadmeadow went to battle with Charlestown at Magic Park for the second spot in the decider.
Broadmeadow also powered home to a strong finish to the regular season. They were sitting sixth after nine games following a Round 10 loss against Charlestown, but they won 10 of their remaining 13 matches to claim second place and finish just one point behind Lambton in the premiership race.
John Bennis’ side defeated Charlestown Azzurri twice in the first three weeks either side of the major semi-final loss against Lambton, and they are now ready to take part in the game that counts against a side they have not been able to get one over in 2023.
“We haven’t beaten them this year. That’s true and we can’t hide from that factor,” Bennis said.
“But have we played well in those games? At times yes. I just feel like defensive moments cost us in those games, and if we can limit those occasions and be better in those moments on Saturday, I see no reason why we can’t be competitive.
“The little one-on-one battles will count too. If you can win more of those than the other team, generally it goes a long way to helping you win the game.”
Bennis conceded that his opponents were the more experienced side heading into Saturday’s decider.
“We’re expecting a proven performance by Lambton,” Bennis said.
“I’m expecting them to handle the occasion really well. They have got very experienced players; you only have to look at Topor-Stanley. They won’t be overawed by the occasion. They will handle it and they’ll deal with the emotions.
“Until you experience those nerves, you don’t really know how you’ll deal with it or if it will affect you. That’s the journey we’ll have to take. But being part of these occasions is something that you learn from.”
Magic are still without Ryan Ensor who has missed most of the year with an ACL injury and they could also be without skipper Jeremy Wilson (ankle) and their most experienced player Keanu More (hamstring), who are both in doubt and will be nowhere near 100 per cent if they do play.
Jarred Baker will be back on deck after he missed the preliminary final with sickness, and Jacob Harris comes into contention for a bench spot having missed the past few months through injury.
The first grade grand final will kick off at 6pm at Jack McLaughlan Oval. Also on Saturday, Newcastle Olympic will take on Edgeworth FC in the reserve grade grand final at 3pm.
NPL Men’s NNSW First Grade Grand Final
Lambton FC v Broadmeadow Magic
NPL Men’s NNSW Reserve Grade Grand Final
Newcastle Olympic v Edgeworth FC
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