BY NATHAN DOLE
KERANG’S quest for back-to-back senior footy premierships in the Central Murray FNL is under threat.
The Blues take on a red-hot Nyah Nyah West United in Saturday’s preliminary final at Tooleybuc.
Stung by a 50-point loss to Balranald in the second semi-final which its ended its unbeaten streak, Kerang now faces a team which has fought its way from the elimination final.
The clash between the Blues and Demons starts at 2.30pm.
Winner advances to a grand final showdown with Balranald at Swan Hill Recreation Reserve.
In last Sunday’s action, NNWU fired up for a 97-66 victory in the first semi against Woorinen at Barham.
A week earlier and the Demons put Lake Boga out of the race in a 103-59 victory in the elimination final in Swan Hill.
Now the Blues are in NNWU’s sights.
Most recent meeting between these teams was in round 14 at Kerang’s Riverside Park.
The Troy Coates-coached Blues led 64-47 at three quarter-time.
In the last it was the Demons who dominated play.
NNWU scored 5.2, but a tally of 2.4 by Kerang was enough to clinch an 80-79 victory.
Among the key duels in the preliminary final will be in the centre where Kerang captain Josh Nitshcke is up against Ethan Saville.
Key playmakers for the Blues include Martin Kelly, Sam Heavyside and Hayden Hall.
Kerang also has experienced ruckman/forward Nick Lang and an attack that includes Adam Hunter and Michael Dalrymple.
At full-back the Blues have Josh Hunter against Demons’ gun recruit Hassan Ahmat-Watkins.
Other players to watch for the Demons include Charlie Boulton and Riley Daniels across half-forward, ruckman Alex Erlandson, and Campbell Everitt and Joel Walsh in defence.
In the reserves it’s Woorinen against Lake Boga from 12.25pm.
The Tigers from Woorinen won the qualifying final against NNW United by 10 goals, but then went down to Kerang in the second semi by eight goals.
Lake Boga’s confidence has soared after victories in the elimination and first semi by 53 and 18 points.
The Tigers defeated the Demons by margins of 18 and 31 points in their matches played in round six and round 17.
Kerang tackles Lake Boga in the Colts match at 10.20am.
After starting the finals with a 13-point win against Lake Boga in the qualifying final, Kerang was beaten in the second semi clash with Woorinen by 33 points.
Best for the Blues against Woorinen were Cooper Meehan, Patrick Oliver, Lachlan Somerville and Hugh Bremner.
Lake Boga fought on for a 43-39 victory against Swan Hill in last Sunday’s first semi.
Nicholas Taylor, Dustin Holmes, Parker Tonkin and Zac Palmer played crucial roles as the Magpies swooped from being nine points down at the start of the final quarter.
First-up on preliminary final day will be Tooleybuc Manangatang and Kerang in the Mildura Health Fund under-14 ½ match at 9am.
The Saints from Tooleybuc Manangatang are on the rebound from a 17-point loss to Lake Boga in the second semi.
On day one of the finals series, Tooleybuc Manangatang scored a 41-15 victory against Kerang in the qualifying final.
Best for the Saints were Connor Hazlett, Jacob Zanker, Julian Muir and Rydar Morris.
The Blues’ best were Flynn McKnight, Hugh Bremner, Ronarrian Dowdy and Nicholas Oliver.
Kerang stayed in the premiership race after a 35-16 victory in the first semi against Swan Hill.
It was one-all between the Saints and Blues when they met in the home-and-away series.