Lake Albert and Harlequins ready for sparks to fly

READY FOR ACTION: Lake Albert captain Craig Knowles and Harlequins captain Brendan Watson at Jubilee Park. Picture: Laura Hardwick
READY FOR ACTION: Lake Albert captain Craig Knowles and Harlequins captain Brendan Watson at Jubilee Park. Picture: Laura Hardwick

Harlequins crushed reigning back-to-back premiers CSU-Rivcoll’s dreams of a three-peat a in last-week’s division one preliminary final and have their sights on upsetting minor premiers Lake Albert in Saturday’s grand final. 

The two teams are long-time grand final foes.

They met in nine of the 10 grand finals prior to last year’s decider, with Harlequins claiming the premiership in six of those clashes.

Despite playing in their third consecutive final, they face a tough battle against Lake, a side which got the better of them in five out of their six regular season matches, with Harlequins’ sole victory coming in round 10.

Each team took vastly different paths to the final.

Lake cruised straight into the season finale with a 5-0 qualifying final win over CSU, while the Harlequins took the hard road, needing an extra game and a penalty shootout to get there.

But that does not mean they are lacking belief in their ability to pull off an upset against their old foes in the biggest game of the year.

“It definitely won’t be easy,” Harlequins captain Brendan Watson said.

“But we think we can match them, we feel good about what we can do out there.

“Having said that, Lake Albert have been the benchmark of the competition all year.”

Watson said his team would take plenty of firepower into battle, with Brendan, Craig and Bradley Watson looming as a fraternal three-headed monster, with 40 goals to their names in total this season.

The Harlequins captain added that staying on top of Lake Albert’s devastating midfield would be his team’s primary focus.

Lake have no shortage of talent in the middle, a department headlined by six-time competition best and fairest winner David Mumford and this year's winner and captain Craig Knowles.

Both players excel at moving the ball up the field in a hurry and feeding competition leading goal scorer Ben Baker.

Harlequins midfielders Brett Manning, Chris Skillen and Riley Makeham will be tasked with stopping them in the middle.

Lake Albert captain Craig Knowles said his side was quietly confident, but would not assume their regular season success would automatically translate into grand final success.

“We’re certainly confident in our ability, but we won’t worry about the results from throughout the season,” he said.

“We just focus on the way we’re playing now, rather than worrying about anything else.”

The division one men’s grand final will get underway at Rawlings Park at 6.30pm on Saturday.

The women’s final commences at 4.45pm.