Harding Excited To Lead Swans Colts Into Grand Final

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 - 9:12 AM

SWAN Districts coach Greg Harding and his colts team will enter Optus Stadium for the first time on Sunday and they are ready for the challenge of taking on Subiaco on the big stage.

The Swan Districts colts won their way into the Grand Final by beating Peel Thunder in last Sunday's preliminary final by 22 points and that sets the stage for a tremendous battle at Optus Stadium this Sunday against Subiaco.

Subiaco finished the colts season on top of the ladder and then beat Swan Districts in the second semi-final by 46 points to qualify for the Grand Final.

In that second semi-final loss to Subiaco, Harding felt not enough Swan Districts players made a strong contribution which was far from the case last Sunday in the preliminary final win against Peel.

Now heading into the Grand Final, Harding is confident that Swans can put in a strong performance and turn the result around if they get every player contributing strongly and playing their role.

"Last week it just got left to too few and this week even a couple of our prime movers were down in terms of numbers. I thought Bainy was incredibly good but as a mid he only had 12 times and that wasn’t a Mitch Bain sort of game," Harding said.

"Jarrod Cameron had seven and didn’t hit the scoreboard either. Last week we were able to keep Hickmott, Schofield and Mayo relatively quiet but it was Subi's depth of contributors across the ground that wore us down, and ended up dominating us.

"For the boys to respond off that game and come out with a similar performance then sets up the game for this week. Even though we've lost all four this year to Subi and we go in underdogs having lost the second semi, the way we played sets up a really good performance."

Swans did play well to beat Peel also in the qualifying final, but Harding knew to overcome the Thunder in last Sunday's preliminary final to win through to the Grand Final they'd have to be even better, and they were.

Swan Districts kicked seven goals to two over the second and third quarters to set up the win with Riley Garcia finishing with 27 possessions and two goals while Nathan Ireland kicked two goals and Jackson Beck had it 25 times, Denzel More 18, Blake Pescud 17, Graydon Wilson 17 and Seb Bright 16.

Matthew Germs and Blake Rowlinson did well in the ruck too and it was a performance Harding was tremendously proud of.

"We did play better and that sort of came from the midfield. I thought Germs, Garcia, Bain, Wallrodt when he went in there and Bright got on top. In that first final, Peel sort of had complete control in the first half and that resulted in 30 inside 50s to seven and our back-line kept us in it that day," he said.

"But I thought this week our midfield was on top for the majority of the day, and as the day progressed they became more and more dominant and connected with Germsy and young Rowlinson better and better. We were able to dictate a little bit inside for the first time in a while."

Harding did begin his coaching career at the helm of the colts at Swan Districts including winning a premiership back in 2008 before taking over as lead coach for Swans in 2011.

He remained at the helm until the end of 2017 when he felt the playing group needed a fresh voice and he needed a change as well.

He was excited to come back to the colts and he always had faith in the playing group at the start of 2018, and is proud of the way they have overcome plenty to finish strongly and now win their way into a Grand Final.

"Our best footy is very exciting so we have always had a lot of confidence that the boys could get here. It was looking a little bit shaky when we had a period with a lot of boys playing league and reserves, and we were dropping games," Harding said.

"We started the season 7-2 but then dropped to 9-8 heading into the last round when we had to beat Claremont to get that double chance. We knew we had to win by a margin against Claremont and we needed East Freo to lose and the boys played pretty well that day.

"We got the boys back together that day and I think we were only missing Mitch Bain and won by enough, and South Fremantle did the right thing by us to give us the double chance. That's been incredibly important.

"We've had a bit of luck along the way to get that double chance but if you look across the body of work for the course of the year, and the amount who have played senior footy, I think the boys deserve to play in the Grand Final."

Harding is now excited to be part of the Grand Final that will be played at Optus Stadium on Sunday from 11.40am and will be broadcast live as well on Channel 7.

Prior to the Sandover Medal count on Monday night he had never been to the venue and now his first experience there on a match day will be for the Grand Final and he can't wait, and he's sure his players are excited as well.

"I think it's a great thing by the WAFL. We didn’t really expect to be playing at Optus to be honest, I thought it would be at one of the local grounds or maybe back at Subi," Harding said.

"To play on that surface adds a little bit of excitement as well. It should become the home of WA football in time and just the ability for colts kids to play on that stage, and for it to be on TV, brings a hell of a lot of excitement.

"The opportunity to get out on a big stadium where three quarters of the group haven’t been there, I haven't been there and I'm excited about being there.

"The colts competition is really strong and for it to be the pinnacle of the talent pathway and have the Grand Final on TV and at Optus Stadium is very exciting for the kids."