THE Division 1 Grand Final is set to be a cracker, with East Keilor winning through to the decider against Craigieburn.
It has long been spoken about as being the best division in local footy and the competition has lived up to those expectations this year.
Any of the top four could have made it through to the Grand Final but in the end, it was the two best teams in the back half of the season that won through.
East Keilor and Craigieburn finished one and two on the ladder and unlike some Grand Finals, there isn't a clear favourite here.
These two sides will have a good idea of what to expect, with this being their third meeting in four weeks.
The Eagles have a slight advantage having won the Semi Final but at the same time, the Cougars had a big win in Round 18.
Both clubs have had different lead-ins to Grand Final Day.
With the week off, Craigieburn got the chance to rest sore bodies while East Keilor had to fight to the end against Tullamarine in Saturday’s Preliminary Final.
The Cougars faced tough conditions in that game, with heavy rain falling throughout the match.
That could take its toll in the Grand Final.
A second half Tullamarine fightback meant the game was on the line until the dying minutes and there was no chance of Pat Christofi resting any players.
Ash Arrowsmith was the star for the Cougars, standing up when they really needed him to, while Ben Caluzzi continued his brilliant season and was named in the best players for the 15th time.
East Keilor’s attention would have quickly turned to this week and what awaits them now in Craigieburn.
Both sides have been pretty consistent in the back half of the season and probably been the most in-form during that time.
The Eagles have lost just one game since Round 11 and the Cougars’ only loss since Round 8 came in the Semi Final.
The games both have lost in that time were against each other.
For Craigieburn, their young players have taken an extra step this season with the addition of experienced support around them.
Brock Chircop has been outstanding both on the ball and up forward, while Tye Browning, when he’s been available, has shown his experience from playing at higher levels.
East Keilor also added experience around some younger players and it’s those experienced recruits that have really stood out.
Leading the way are Ben Caluzzi, Josh and Nick Grabowski and Joseph Palazzolo.
The Cougars have also shown plenty of depth, being able to cover the long absence of leading goal kicker, Dion Hill.
The return of Hill in the last two weeks has been handy.
Both sides will have some tough decisions to make at the selection table.
Will Ryan Bongetti or Jesse Davies return for Craigieburn?
Bongetti, when fit, is all class, but he hasn’t played since August 3, while Davies has been a star in his return to the club this season.
Meanwhile East Keilor will be sweating on the fitness of the Grabowski brothers.
Both Nick and Josh have been standouts in their first season at the club after coming across from Bundoora.
They both missed Sunday’s Preliminary Final win against Tullamarine and would be big outs if they don’t come up here.
This Grand Final shapes up as an interesting match and hopefully we have ideal conditions for a cracker game of football.
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