By Benito Carbone
Many would have you believe that Saturday’s Statewide Super Grand Final is a battle between two egregiously outmatched sides.
19-0 vs 12-7, inexperience vs wisdom, David vs Goliath, etc.
We all know the narrative, but it will be proven as false come Saturday Night.
What is set to unfold will be far from a lopsided encounter, and the Eagles are ready to soar against a team that has not lost a match in 362 days.
Just two weeks ago, North Adelaide’s streak was on the ropes as Forestville surged in Hillcrest, leading by 15 in the shadows of Three-Quarter Time.
However with a ticket to the big dance on the line, the visitors were outscored 26-4 in the final term; a comprehensive undressing at the hands of the Minor Premiers.
Monica Bello’s charges made up for their shortcomings seven days later. The Eagles – whose starting five sport an average age of 19 – built an early buffer over the Southern Tigers and never looked back, limiting the reigning champs to just 52 points in a rousing performance.
With that considered, have Bello’s girls stamped out the mental demons that would have proved their biggest enemy come tip off?
“You think they would [have mental demons],” said Bello, exhibiting the honesty that makes her one of the league’s most-loved characters.
“But the way that they came out that Monday at training was as if there was this extra level of determination.
“They realised what they had blown. Deep down [the semi-final loss] will be at the back of their minds, but we’ve got nothing to prove anymore.”
Then the Eagles coach turned the tables.
“North are the ones that have gone undefeated, we clearly have rattled them.
“We now know that mentally we can match it with them and take it that extra step, then we can rectify what happened in that last quarter.”
Forestville know they need to play to their strengths up against a ruthless No.1 seed and for Bello, what happens when the ball isn’t in their hands is key.
“Defence is our core, and then our offence comes through that.
“Yes, you’ve got your Leah Metcalf and your Joey Hill, but you could easily shut them down and someone else will pick up that flack.
“They’ve got a real quality side. They’re experienced, they know how to handle the pressure.
“We know that we can do it, it’s just a matter of whether we can see it through to the end.”
Grand Finals have proven Hillcrest/Houston’s biggest problem since the turn of the decade, having triumphed just once as they head into their sixth Grand Final of the past seven years.
But regardless of who’s hands the trophy ends up in, the Wayville outfit will have their head held high.
“This is the first time in 3 seasons of coaching that I go to training and I’m excited,” said Bello.
“I get inspired by the whole group, who have shown so much maturity from the start – when we were at 0-3 – to now.
“They don’t fear anything. It’s phenomenal, I’m really proud of them.”