The Candelo-Bemboka Panthers and Bega Roosters will be the local hopes in Sunday’s Group 16 grand final.
The two reserve grade outfits are the only Bega-area teams qualifying for the headline clash in a spectacular local derby for the premiership at the Bega Recreation Ground.
The Roosters were the only side able to lower the colours of the CBU contingent, but pulled off the feat twice in the year – upsetting the side again in the major semi-final.
Bega coach Scott Barton says no-one should “read too much into the game at Cooma” as gale-winds and icy conditions hampered play at both ends.
“They’re a tough side and we’ve been fortunate the last two, but it will come down to commitment, desire and hands on the ball on Sunday,” Barton said.
The coach will look for a concerted team-wide effort from his charges at the Bega Rec Ground, saying Candelo-Bemboka were too strong for any one player to beat.
The Roosters are fresh from a week off, while the Panthers had to go the long way round, taking down the Bulldogs last weekend.
Barton said no matter the result it would be a fantastic day as both sides have battled well all year.
“It’s a massive day and exciting for everyone, we want to get out there and enjoy it,” he said.
“We’re ready to go, the boys are ready to get into it after the rest and we’re hoping for the best.”
Barton said it was huge for Group 16 to have seven separate clubs competing with two local derbys shaping up as the headline matches.
“You’ve got the derby between Bombala and Cooma and then there’s Candelo-Bemboka and us, they’ll be great games.” he said.
“It would be great if a big crowd got a long to cheer everyone on, if you love footy ... you’re going to like the day.”
The Panthers shape as the biggest front line in the reserve grade draw, while the Roosters have found room to move through some of their outside quicks.
Barton said it could boil down to momentum through the middle and wether a strong Bega defence could slow the front lines of the Panthers.
“We’ll just go out there and do what we’ve been doing all year to hopefully do the club and the town proud,” he said.
Players to watch include Trent Rollason and Michael Motbey for the Panthers, while the Roosters are showing sparks of brilliance through centres John Parbery and Shannon Shepherdson, while Dillon Aldridge is dangerous on the burst.
Play will likely centre through the ruck, while try opportunities will show on the fringes and wings.
The two clubs will clash in the Group 16 grand final at the Bega Recreation Ground from 12.45pm on Sunday.
More Group 16 rugby league grand final coverage, pages 24,25.