The Waverley Oakleigh Panthers are only one win away from a spot in the Storm Premiership Grand Final.
The boys from Waverley have had to overcome plenty of adversity this year, demonstrating plenty of grit and determination to land themselves a Qualifying Final this Saturday.
They snuck into second place on the ladder, only one point above the Werribee Bears in 3rd, with the Panthers now having the luxury of two bites of the cherry, with a preliminary final awaiting them should they fail to secure victory on the weekend.
Club captain Brad Hill said he was proud of his side’s ability to overcome plenty of adversity throughout the season and to be in with a real chance come finals footy.
“If you’d have said at start of the year we would finish second and have a double shot at finals, considering the adversity with injuries we've had, we are happy with where we’re at,” he said.
Waverley are a well-balanced side across the park, with their hard-working middle forwards leading the way for their exciting young prospects out wide.
The experienced heads of Terry Constantinou and Brad Hill compliment the likes of Darcy Peel and Ethan Simpson, with that mix of youth and experience making them a tricky opponent for any side to face.
“It’s good for these young blokes to step up into first grade and it’s not been easy matches that they’ve had to be part of so it’s good to have those young players with that first-grade experience,” Hill said.
“You can really begin to learn who you can rely and it’s definitely an asset to have come finals,” he said.
With 11 tries and 134 points halfback Marcus Kaponga has led the way for the Panthers this season, showcasing his ability to win a game off his own back in certain moments throughout the year.
Along with some flashy football, they’ve also shown their ability to grind out the tough victories this season. They got the job done against the Bears by two-points in Round 9, before then following it up with a last-gasp victory against the Warriors in Round 10 to show they were the real deal this season.
As for this weekend’s qualifying final against the Bunnies, Hill said there will be minimal changes in their preparation as they look to knock off the ladder leaders.
“Our prep isn’t different to how we would prepare for any other team because with this competition any team can beat any team on their day, so we are just preparing well and if we perform at our best then the results will come off the back of it,” he said.
“It’s finals football now so we just have to be on top of our game and we’ll progress if we do our job well.”