Phantoms playing for a grand final berth against Wagga Waratahs

HERE THEY COME: Joe Ratu will be smiling again on Saturday afternoon if the Phantoms can book a spot in the first grade grand final.
HERE THEY COME: Joe Ratu will be smiling again on Saturday afternoon if the Phantoms can book a spot in the first grade grand final.

EXCITEMENT is building within the Phantoms ranks as their first grade side looks to book a grand final appearance this weekend. 

If they can do it, it will be the first time the team has done so since 1998. 

Leeton went down to Hay in that game, with their last and only premiership victory coming in 1991. 

A number of factors will be on the side of the Phantoms on Saturday. 

The match will be played on their home turf at No. 1 Oval in what will likely mean having a huge crowd of supporters backing them all the way, with the club's second grade and women’s team also playing on the day. 

The Dianas will also be vying for a grand final spot, while second grade hopes to keep their season alive with a win over Tumut. 

The Phantoms first grade side hasn’t lost a match this season, which could also work in their favour unless complacency creeps in. 

Club president Bart Challacombe said that wouldn’t be the case, with first grade knowing just how important a win would be and what it would mean. 

“Everyone is raring to go,” he said. 

“First grade and the Dianas had the week off after finishing first. 

“The boys have been training hard in the lead up to this weekend. 

“Last week we concentrated on a lot of fitness and Tuesday’s session was really good as well. 

“We wanted to have a big session to make up for there being no game last weekend.” In their way on Saturday will be the Wagga Waratahs. 

A team that has challenged the Phantoms in their two previous encounters, but Leeton has always managed to come out on top. The side will have to do it without Siti Watkins, who is out for the rest of the season.

“We’ll probably be going in with a similar line up to our last match before the week off,” Challacombe said. 

“Everyone is really fighting for their spot, but I think we’ll be going with a similar team to have that stability and consistency.” With the Phantoms hosting such a big event, it could soon be even bigger. 

Should first grade win and make it through to the grand final that will give the Leeton club hosting rights. Challacombe said there was a job to do before then. “We know they’ll (Wagga Waratahs) be wanting to come over here and slow us down,” he said. 

“If we can stick to our game plan and get the ball out to open spaces, we’ll be right. The pressure is definitely on us, but it’s been like that all season.”

We’ll probably be going in with a similar line-up to our last match before the week off.

Phantoms club president Bart Challacombe