Grand final in July? | Round 13 preview

YOU'VE heard of Christmas in July, but this Saturday is the next best thing - a KNTFL grand final in July.

Reigning premiers Penola will hit the Riddoch Hwy bound for the league's new centre at Padthaway in the weekend's match of the round - and arguably the match of the season so far.

Everything has come up blue and gold this year with the Padthaway Lions enjoying an almost perfect season to date - spoiled only by an early season round 2 loss to Keith.

The most astounding stat: the Lions have only conceded six goals in the past two weeks.

Penola coach Adam Merrett takes a mark on his chest on his way to seven goals against Kingston on the weekend, proving too strong for opponent Josh Gould. This weekend is going to be a big test for "Hogget" and his charges with a massive match-up against Padthaway in a possible grand final preview.

Penola coach Adam Merrett takes a mark on his chest on his way to seven goals against Kingston on the weekend, proving too strong for opponent Josh Gould. This weekend is going to be a big test for "Hogget" and his charges with a massive match-up against Padthaway in a possible grand final preview.

And those matches haven't been against lowly teams like Kyby or Kingston, but two of their nearest rivals in Bordertown (four goals) and Keith (just two).

The exchange rate has been huge too - with Padthaway notching up 30 goals against Bordertown on the weekend and 19 against Keith the week before.

If they are to be beaten on the weekend then Penola are as good a shot as any to do it.

Their coach Adam Merrett is leading the KNTFL goalkicking with 62 goals so far (Padthaway's former AFL spearhead Scott Welsh is his nearest rival on 43) and comes off a seven goal haul.

His opposing number in non-playing Adam Jeffries will need to organise his defence in order to minimise the space Merrett has to use and, more importantly, cut off the usual silver service he gets from the midfield.

Either way this match goes, it is likely not the last time the two will do battle this season so perhaps either coach would want to keep some cards close to his chest - but regardless, this encounter promises to be one of the highest quality games the league is likely to see this year.

The big games do not stop there either, with Kaniva/Leeor hosting Bordertown.

Bordertown faltered last weekend against the red hot Lions and it doesn't get much easier for them with this trip across the border.

The Cougars at the moment are sitting second, above Penola and below Padthaway, and are looking to consolidate that spot.

A win here will put them either even with Padthaway on 40 points or two games ahead of third place depending on the Padthaway vs Penola result, so Neil Reeve and his charges will be fired up.

Bordertown is one of three teams on 28 points and is now in a dogfight to stay in the five.

The Roosters are in fifth at the moment sandwiched between Mundulla and Keith.

Working in their favour is Keith having two bye rounds left to Bordertown's one.

Their destiny rests firmly in their hands, a win here will go a long way towards ensuring their position.

One name they will be banking on returning is Lee Staple - the former Woodville/West Torrens player has been overseas reportedly indulging in the round-ball game which means he is due back on the oval soon.

Mundulla host Naracoorte in a crucial match for the Moots.

Sitting in fourth spot courtesy of a good percentage, they will want to avoid any slip-ups in the run to finals and not be that one good team to miss the cut.

As it stands they have a clear run to the final round with no byes while Keith have one this weekend, Bordertown have one in two weeks time and Keith will again sit out the final round.

Naracoorte are just playing for pride, three wins behind the three Tatiara teams fighting for spots four and five in the finals.

It is still a mathematical possibility the Demons could feature in September, but with a bye factored in it looks like Dean Woosnam will finish his coaching stint in August.

In the other games Border Districts head to Kingston in a crucial match for either side to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon.

Borders (two wins - against Kybybolite and Naracoorte) have lost their last seven games and have struggled to remain competitive.

When they get blown away they get blown away badly, injuries and lack of depth have hurt the northern Eagles badly.

Kingston (one win - against Kyby) have continued along the same old same old line of youth - they are in the game for parts of the match but ultimately lack the firepower to trouble most sides.

They will see this as a great chance to double their win tally of the year.

Kybybolite had a week off last weekend to celebrate their win over Naracoorte, and perhaps lick their wounds.

The drought-breaking victory over their bitter rivals came at a cost, with key big man Dave Arnold, promising youngster Joe FitzGerald and small forward Brad Cook all likely to now miss the rest of the season with injury.

Lucindale are sitting on three wins and with their head above the bottom three.

After their results last season they will see this as a step in the right direction under new coach Sam Logan, with a win against Kyby just another promising sign heading into the back half of the year.

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