WEST Lions and Wee Waa Panthers will run on with their best sides when the two clash in Sunday’s Group 4 major semi-final at Scully Park, Tamworth.
Both coaches said they would have full-strength sides for a much- anticipated game.
The last time they clashed, West Lions led 34-10 at half- time and won 50-40 after the Panthers had clawed their way back to 40-all with some brilliant try-scoring running.
While Wee Waa comes into Sunday’s match fresh from a final-round 48-20 win over Moree, West Lions were beaten 38-22 by Narrabri at Narrabri.
The Blues bowed out on Sunday though when 36-18 losers to North Tamworth in the minor semi-final at Jack Woolaston Oval.
“We rested players from that game,” West coach Tony La Chiusa said this week.
Sean Nean, Shaughn Stevenson, Chris Hunt, Matt Lillicrap and Scott Rolls didn’t play in that game.
“They’re all back for Sunday though and will make a massive difference,” La Chiusa said.
“We wanted to win at Narrabri but we didn’t want to add any more injuries.
“It’s also hard getting the attitude right for that dead rubber.”
No such concerns this week with the West squad at full strength and Player of Year hopefuls such as Chris Vidler and Rolls ready to rip in.
The two props have been among the best and most consistent players in this G4 season.
With Wee Waa backrower Ben Power and Narrabri captain-coach Sean Russ, they are challenging North Tamworth’s Marshall Barker for the G4 Player of the Year Award.
Vidler and Rolls have been two of the side’s best all season while Power has been a consistent performer in the back row for the Panthers.
“They have all been playing good, consistent football,” Wee Waa coach Adrian Sunderland said.
“That’s the reason we are where we are.
“We’re also coming off a week off. A few of the boys needed that.
“And we expect to play a full- strength West side.
“That’s what finals footy is all about.
“It should be a good game.”
Winner on Sunday goes straight to a home grand final on September 8.
Loser plays North Tamworth next Sunday on their home pitch.
Following that preliminary final, Group 4 will conduct is gala awards night at Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club on Wednesday night, September 4.
Over the past decade or so, player awards have been handed out on grand final days but this year G4 has elected to add a bit of glamour and prestige by running a presentation night leading into the grand finals.
They also changed the Group 4 Second Division draw so the Second Division grand final will be played on the Saturday and the First Division on the Sunday.
“We wanted to make the First Division Grand Final the last and most important game of our season,” G4 secretary Mick Schmiedel said.