Redemption beckons for Bulldogs


Published on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Author : Jarryd Barca

North Heidelberg will have last year’s grand final loss in the back of its mind when it takes the field in Saturday’s A Plus Labour Solutions Division 2 grand final.

The Bulldogs finished 10 points clear atop the ladder this season, with a commanding percentage of 227.92, and cruised to the grand final with a 70-point thrashing over upcoming opponent Diamond Creek in the second semi final.

But despite dominating the season and going into the premiership decider as clear favourites, the Bulldogs will go in with a level-headed approach.

“Last year we won the second semi final and got beaten (in the grand final),” Saddington told NFL.org.au.

“Once the ball is bounced and it’s 0-0, anything can happen on grand final day.

“I am glad to know that if we play at our best we will beat Diamond Creek, although they might be trying a few different things to throw us out of whack.

“We’ll go in knowing that our best is capable of getting the job done, it’s just whether we can show it again on the day.”

Despite booking its place in the grand final two weeks before the big dance, Saddington said the mood around the club hasn’t changed too drastically.

“Not much has really changed around the place,” he said.

“You can tell it’s finals time with all the excitement levels but nothing has really changed too much except for knowing that we’re in it (the grand final).

“At the moment we’re just kicking along as we have been all year.”

North Heidelberg earned a week off after beating Diamond Creek at Epping Recreation Reserve in the second semi final during the opening week of the finals series.

The 70-point win came just a week after a 78-point thrashing of the Demons at Coventry Oval in the final round of the home and away season.

North was also victorious by 22 and 29-point margin in the pair’s meetings in Round 13 and Round 1.

But weary after last year’s grand final defeat to Hurstbridge, Saddington admitted his side’s preparation during the week off had changed.

“We trained on Saturday morning and then went to the game on Saturday. We also trained on Tuesday and Thursday and just tried to keep it as much as we can the same,” he said.

“Last year we probably kept it too low key and just took it like another game, whereas this year we’re going to really embrace it and enjoy it.

“The beauty from last weekend from our view is that the boys were keen to watch the prelim, which is probably something that didn’t happen last year.”

Confident his side’s best is good enough, Saddington still expects the match to play out differently to the past two encounters, where North Heidelberg has scored 126 points on both occasions.

“They’re (Diamond Creek) not an overly high scoring side. It’s worked for them all year it just hasn’t worked on us,” he said.

“They’re probably going to try a few different things to try and match us up, but we just have to focus on what we need to do.”

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