THE Group 20 reserve premiership is Yanco-Wamoon’s for the taking as they head into the clash with Leeton as favourites.
The Hawks finished the home and away season as minor premiers and topped that off with a 24-8 win over the Waratah Tigers to earn themselves the first spot in the grand final.
The Hawks have been the team to beat all season and, although the Greens have come close to doing so, they are yet to knock them from their perch.
Road to the grand final
The Hawks have had a relatively smooth ride to the grand final.
Having secured the minor premiership in the home and away season, Yanco-Wamoon earned the first week of the finals off to rest and recuperate.
Their only outing in the finals so far was a solid victory over the Waratah Tigers, meaning they went straight through into the premiership match.
The Hawks are coming off another weekend away from the field, but captain-coach Michael Thomas wasn’t too fazed.
“It’s been a pretty big build up,” he said.
“We’re not concerned about coming in and not having played as much as the Greens.
“It could possibly work in our favour. They might be a bit fatigued where as we’re coming in fresh.
“It’s always a hard call.
“The Greens obviously have the momentum at the moment because they’ve had to play those games, but we’re confident we’re prepared and ready to go.”
ALL season the Hawks have enjoyed consistency.
They have kept the same 19 to 20 players on deck, which has allowed them to get used to each other’s style of play while allowing them to pull together as one unit.
“I’d like to think because of that we’ve put ourselves in a really good position (ahead of the grand final),” Thomas said.
“No one has taken the foot off the pedal.
“All of the boys are keen to get out there and get the win.”
The Hawks have a good spread of experience and youth across the park.
Just last Friday, Gary Ingram was awarded the best and fairest honour for reserve grade at Group 20’s annual presentation evening.
Grand final preparations
YANCO-WAMOON have had two weeks up their sleeve to prepare for the premiership game.
The knowledge of having a fortnight to come to grips with making the grand final, as well as preparing on the paddock could give them the one-up over their opponents in the Greens.
In terms of training, it’s been business as usual, according to Thomas.
“We haven’t been doing anything too different … there’s no point mixing anything up now when everything we have been doing has already worked so well for us,” he said.
“There’s been a bit of fine-tuning and working on our skills.
“We’ve really just been trying to keep the fitness up.
“That’s been our main goal and focus.
“You don’t want to lose that match fitness at this time of the year.”
Who to watch
THOMAS was reluctant to single out players ahead of the biggest game of the season.
He said the whole team would be required to play their role and switch on from the very beginning of Sunday’s match.
However, he did say Ingram would play a focal part.
“He’s a very good leader and he’s got so much experience,” Thomas said.
“Having him out there on the field is fantastic.”
The other player Thomas believes will make an impact is Jesse Fitzhenry.
“I’m expecting him to have a big game for us,” Thomas said.
“He’s been playing fullback recently and it’s worked out really well for us.
“Hopefully he can continue his recent form.”
A LOCAL derby is always going to draw excitement and attention, especially when it’s a grand final.
Thomas believed it would certainly add to the occasion with just a slight bit of extra incentive thrown into the mix.
He said the Greens would provide a tough challenge, particularly given their previous encounters this season.
“We’re two-from-two over them this year, but it’s all different come finals time, especially a grand final,” Thomas said.
“Anything can happen.
“It’s great for the shire to have the two teams going up against each other in the grand final.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for Leeton.
“A lot of blokes have played for both clubs over the years.”
Thomas said defence would be a big factor in Sunday's game.
He said he was hopeful and confident the Hawks would get the job done, but they wouldn’t be going into the game thinking it was won.
“You definitely can’t be doing that,” Thomas said.
“We want to get away to a good start.
“You never want to be playing catch up that’s for sure.”
Club on the right track
The Hawks will have three teams contesting Sunday’s Group 20 grand finals.
Thomas was proud to be associated with Yanco-Wamoon.
“There’s a real buzz around the club,” he said.