Brad Xavier and Luke Hitch will be the first Werribee-listed players to line up in a local grand final this year thanks to their Keilor side's thrilling Essendon District Football League preliminary-final win over Strathmore on Sunday.
Xavier was named best afield for Blues as they staged a remarkable comeback from 44 points down to scrape home by two points against the Griffins and set up a shot at redemption against reigning premier Aberfeldie, which downed the more heavily fancied Keilor by eight points in last week’s second semi-final.
Isaac Miller, Max Augerinos, Julian Lockwood, and Jack Williams will also all get the chance to play for premiership glory, though all will first enjoy a week off after prevailing in their second semi-finals.
Remarkably, all four came away with wins despite coming up against ladder-leading sides enjoying the benefit of a week off.
Miller played a starring role for St Mary’s as he and Augerinos helped guide the Saints to a 22-point win over Geelong Football League frontrunners Leopold, Lockwood booted two goals for Leongatha as it handed Maffra a 64-point thrashing to reach the final phase of its Gippsland Football League premiership defence, and Williams’ Camperdown side downed reigning Hampden Football League premiers Koroit to secure its first grand final berth in 12 years.
Miller and Augerinos will now wait to see if they will again square off against Leopold in two weeks or instead face a 2017 grand-final rematch against Ben McNamara and Brenton Rees’ St Joseph’s side, which won through to a preliminary-final showdown against the Lions with a 33-point win over Charlie Francis’ South Barwon side in the sudden-death first semi-final.
McNamara was typically reliable in defence to finish as one of the Joeys’ standouts, while Francis’ best-afield effort down back for the Swans will likely serve as cold comfort given his 2018 season has now come to a close.
Francis’ was the only story of disappointment to emerge from the Werribee players in action over the weekend, with Jade Cleeland and Harry Boyd both winning through to preliminary finals with their respective Wangaratta and Shepparton sides.
Cleeland kicked two goals and was among the best for the Magpies as they downed Yarrawonga by 48 points in the Ovens & Murray Football League first semi-final, while Boyd’s Bears side cruised to a 40-point victory over Mansfield in the corresponding Goulburn Valley Football League fixture.
Wangaratta will now face Wodonga Raiders for the second time in three weeks in its bid to secure a grand-final berth against Albury, with Shepparton to take on Echuca for the chance to earn another shot at Kyabram.