Grand final agony drives Olympic squad to end hoodoo

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HAMILTON captain Kyle Hodges said the experience of grand final defeat was driving him and many others in the Olympic camp as the club chases a first major premiership since 2009.

The centre back will fight for a first grand final victory at his third attempt when he leads out Hamilton on Sunday, and he is one of several from the Olympic camp out to end a hoodoo.

Hodges and twins Andrew and Matt Swan lost the 2008 grand final to Broadmeadow while with Azzurri, then the 2009 decider to Hamilton while with Phoenix under current Olympic coach Michael Bolch.

In 2012, Bolch steered Hamilton to their first minor premiership but lost the grand final 4-1 to Broadmeadow. Current Olympic players Ben Koina, Jacob Bailey and Pat Brown were in that losing squad.

Simon Mooney missed Magic’s 2011 grand final win because of suspension, while Jason Korotkich was part of South Cardiff’s losing squad that same year. Kane Goodchild was part of Azzurri’s 2008 loss, and goalkeeper Danny Ireland won one grand final and lost another while at the Lambton Jaffas the past two seasons.

Hodges said the Hamilton line-up were determined to turn around their grand final fortunes together.

“We are all definitely due,” Hodges said. “Hopefully it’s third time lucky for me.

“There’s a few of us due for a win, so hopefully we can get one. It certainly gives you a bit of hunger in the belly.”

After missing the finals last season, Hamilton enjoyed a resurgence this year with the addition of Ireland and Goodchild and return of Mooney from injury.

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They were undefeated until losing 3-1 to Edgeworth in round 12 but ended up third after a shock 2-0 loss to Maitland in the final round.

Olympic fought back to qualify for the decider with a gutsy 2-2 draw with Lambton last week after trailing 2-0 midway through the second half.

Hamilton’s strength at set pieces and attacking options off balls to Goodchild were keys to victory against the Jaffas.

Those strengths may give them an edge over the slick Eagles passing game if rain on Friday and forecast showers create a soft and slippery pitch at Magic Park on Sunday. Hodges, though, said neither side would have an advantage in the wet.

“Edgeworth’s ground has been soggy for much of the year, and bumpy, so I think they know how to play in these conditions quite well,” he said.

“When we played them out there, they beat us 3-1, and the ground was terrible.

“They seemed to work it out, so it could play into their favour a little, but it doesn’t bother us, whatever the pitch is like.

“I think it will be a close game – grand finals usually are – and it will probably be a bit scrappy and come down to who wants it more.”

source:theherald.com

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