The Bacchus Marsh and Darley rivalry is one of the biggest in local football and it will step up another level on Ballarat Football League’s grand final day.
The two teams and towns, which are less than five kilometres from each other, will fight it out in not one, but two, grand finals on Saturday.
The Devils reserves set up the first of those grand final clashes when they defeated East Point on Saturday, 7.11 (53)-6.8 (44) in the preliminary final.
Bacchus Marsh then followed in the seniors game, easily accounting for Lake Wendouree, to set up a second match against the Devils in two weeks.
Cobras coach Travis Hodgson said it did not get any bigger than this for the club.
“It’s as strong a rivalry as most in country and suburban football,” he said.
“Both the reserves and seniors are in the grand final, it’s a huge day for the club.
“It highlights that the club is in a strong position with a fair bit of depth.”
On Saturday, the Cobras produced one of their best performances of the season to defeat Lake Wendouree for the second time in the finals series. The Cobras got the jump early and were never headed, winning 14.15 (99)-9.9 (63). It was the type of performance Hodgson was after, following their worst day of the year the previous week against the Devils.
“We get another chance,” he said.
“We started well and the intensity we didn’t play with last week was there.
“It was evident early we brought a different level from last week.
“We put the scoreboard pressure on early and the Lakers struggled to get back into it.”
Hodgson said the performance, which he said was their best of the season, would help boost the players’ confidence.
Scott Sherlock, who played his first game since August 5, was best on ground in his return from a hamstring injury.
His leadership in the midfield was vital.
“Credit to the work he puts in with his rehab and recovery, it was really professional coming back when right,” Hodgson said.
“It’s great to have him back on the field.”
He said in a big bonus for the side, they finished the game without injuries.
Injuries and suspension has played a big part in the Cobras finals’ campaign. While they didn’t receive any fresh injuries, they will have to play the grand final without Jarrah Maksymow who was suspended for two weeks last week.
Hodgson said they were better equipped to deal with the loss of their leading goalkicker, now than earlier in the season.
“Jarrah is obviously a talented player, but he makes us more predictable,” he said.
“Jarrah missed four or five matches and I think we won all of them convincingly.
“We had a good spread of goalkickers.”
The Cobras and Devils will both be looking for
a second senior premiership from the past few years. Darley broke a 20-year premiership drought when they won the 2015 premiership and the Cobras followed 12 months later, winning their first premiership since Maddingley and Bacchus Marsh merged in 1979.
The Devils lead the head-to-head match-ups i 2-1 n the 2017 season, with all three matches being one-sided.