By Peter Argent
In his opening season of SANFL football with the Woodville West Torrens Eagles, 23-year-old Kobe Mutch is preparing for a second semi-final clash against ladder leaders, Glenelg, at Adelaide Oval tonight (Saturday, September 18).
This year’s finals series has a number of unique aspects, with the second semi-final being played as an evening game and the penultimate match of the year, the preliminary final of 2021, being a Friday night fixture, on AFL Grand Final eve.
The 2021 SANFL Grand Final will be Sunday, October 3, starting at 3pm.
After finishing second behind Glenelg, the Eagles clawed their way to victory last Sunday in the Qualifying Final, defeating Norwood by seven points in a low scoring and uncompromising affair.
Mutch was an important contributor in the victory, kicking a first quarter goal, collected 25 disposals (14 kicks and 11 handballs) and laid five tackles to be among the Eagles best.
“Norwood were awesome in the way they attacked the game – and we needed to produce a strong brand of footy to grab the win,” Mutch said.
“The game last week was a significant step up in the intensity, as you’d expect from a final.
“It was pleasing we were able to match them and hold on for a win in pretty tough and slippery conditions.”
Mutch explained a major reason he decided to sign with Woodville West Torrens this season was they were expected to participate in the major round.
“That’s why I’m here – 100 per cent – this is the time of year you want to be involved and performing,” Mutch confirmed.
“Reading the history of the club, the Eagles have been in a lot of finals (since the foundation clubs amalgamated in 1991) but have never collected back-to-back flags.
“The focus is on being a part of the team that achieves that.”
The Eagles task tonight (Saturday evening) is to defeat ladder leaders Glenelg, who endured just one loss for the regular, their final game against Port.
The winner gains direct entry to the Grand Final and importantly a week’s rest.
Mutch confirmed that players need to alter your preparation for an evening fixture.
“My one AFL (Friday) night-game was with Essendon and it wasn’t an experience that I remember fondly – I tore my ‘hammy’ and spent the next 12 weeks on the sidelines,” Mutch mused.
“It is important you don’t play the game in your head too much during the day, and are ready to play the game from when the ball bounces.
“I’m more prepared and mature in this area now.”
After a shoulder injury on SANFL debut in round one, Mutch returned to league ranks in round seven.
His form over the second half of the season has been ultra-consistent, playing as an inside midfielder for the reigning premiers.
“(I’ve) Started to get continuity of my body in the second half of the season and play some consistent footy,” he smiled.
“(My) Best footy for the season is still in front of me.
“Eagles coach Jade Sheedy has been excellent for me this year.
“He’s really good at relationship building and you know where you stand, which helps to play your best footy.”
Mutch is looking to follow in the footsteps of fellow Silver City footballers including Lachlan McGregor, Mitch Clisby, Colin Casey, Peter Meuret and Chris Duthy, who have paraded their football talent on the SANFL’s biggest stage, the Grand Final.
They have two chances over the next seven days; winning the second semi, or beating either Norwood or South in the Preliminary Final next Friday night. Kobe Mutch’s plan is to get the job done tonight.
IMAGE: West Torrens Eagle Kobe Mutch, one win away from the Grand Final. PICTURE: Peter Argent
This article was first published on 18 September 2021.