By Kieren Vartuli
Eighteen straight regular season victories and one miraculous come from behind victory sealed North Adelaide’s position in the biggest night on the Premier League calendar.
A memorable victory over their Grand Final opponents a mere few weeks ago will be on the minds of the North Adelaide Rockets Saturday night.
North Adelaide were crowned premiers in 2014 after a three-point victory over Sturt, the last of their championship success.
This Saturday marks the Rockets’ sixth appearance in the Grand Final since 2012. Following them, a history of success eluding them on more than one occasion.
The Rockets will be looking to hang a banner from the roof of Hillcrest for the last time before proceeding with their move to their new home.
“Any time you win something like this it will be special, whether it was heartbreaking last year or not, it is more about this year.”
“I mean if we win this and are undefeated, that [means we are] a pretty special group” Coach Brenton Johnston believes.
North Adelaide managed to turn around what was a thirteen-point deficit into a fantastic 11-point victory.
A quarter one would need to witness to believe saw North Adelaide outscore the Eagles 26-4, checking their Grand Final ticket.
“Forestville have always been very good in challenging us.”
“We just match up really well and they play well” Johnston said.
By being one win off a perfect season, the Ladies in Red have continued to stay grounded in the road to the finals.
“The morale’s great, the girls are great and have been like that all year.”
“The girls have really been a close-knit group of girls for the whole year, and it has been really a pleasure to coach” Johnston believes.
The sides have clashed three times this season with North taking the win on all three occasions.
The North Adelaide input from their bench will be crucial in this matchup once again, after scoring 21-points compared to the Eagles’ 5 last time they met.
Despite walking out of Hillcrest with the victory that that time, Johnston still admires the Eagles’ effort.
“Hopefully we stick to our stuff and keep to our plans a little bit better than we did.”
“Forestville did a fantastic job last time getting us out of what we bring. We need to try and back and believe in ourselves a lot more.”
A fourth meeting for the season will take place this weekend between Johnston’s and Bello’s women, which is shaping up to be an instant classic.