WERRIS Creek have had signs and streamers on the main drag all week as the town prepares to host the Second Division grand final today.
In a repeat of the Magpies’ centenary year in 2012, the Kootingal Roosters will be making the trip to David Taylor Park for the decider, and the home side would like the result to go the same way as that did, a 44-nil one-way affair.
In fact, the last two titles Werris Creek have won have been over the Roosters, the other a 36-4 victory in 2010.
Magpies coach Lindsay Bowne said that before the semi-final win he could see a victory in the players’ eyes and now he is hoping to see it again.
“The momentum is there now,” Bowne said.
“They had a good taste of it in the semi and the rest is up to them now.”
Bowne won’t make any changes to the side that booked the home final, a privilege and advantage not many coaches achieve these days.
“We have been pretty good with injuries and depth this season,” Bowne said.
“The week off helps with that as well.”
That means that utility Cody Tickle will stay at lock, with veteran Stu Porter and three-try semifinal hero Latrell Hampton to stay in the halves.
“We are just excited to get out there and play,” Tickle said.
“We are all pretty pumped.”
The side will be led out by hooker Brendan Hunt, who has been a revelation for the side in the run home.
He provides plenty of direction, organisation and energy, as well as another set of ball-playing hands in the middle.
“He has been great for the side on and off the paddock – he is a good leader,” Bowne said.
The Roosters will also have a close to full roster, and injured captain-coach Nathan Hamlin hopes that run has made for a battle-hardened and fitter side than the one that lost the semi-final a fortnight ago.
“We are ready to go,” Hamlin said.
“Everyone is back on deck.”
Amos Iosa, Anthony Smith and Jordan Sharpe all suffered knee injuries in the finals but are all set to return for the big game.
Sharpe watched last week in a knee brace, so his inclusion in the side was of great relief to Hamlin.
“He gives me that extra attacking option and set of hands,” Hamlin said.
Skipper Andrew Moodie will move back into lock and Josh Crittenden will return to the bench as a dynamic utility.
“Our bench is one of the best around,” Hamlin said.
“They would all get starts in most other sides and give me good options.”
The coach has been drilling defence into his side to prepare for the direct Creek attack, but wants his side to use brains sometimes and not just brawn.
“We have been playing tough football but not so much smart football,” he said.
“We have to match them in the forwards early but everyone has a role to do that.”
Despite the record of finals losses, Hamlin has been keeping things calm at training, although can’t promise that he will do the same come game time when he can’t be on the field.
“If they stick to the plan I will be fine,” Hamlin said.
“In the end it is just another game of football.”
“This one just has a shield at the end of it.”
The Roosters will feature in both games, with their league tag girls looking to complete a huge turnaround from also-rans last year to a major semi-final win and grand final appearance this season.
They will face a Uralla side who left Group 19 as premiers two years ago and are out to settle the score after the Roosters beat them in the final round game of the season and then again in the major semi-final after the Tigers won the minor title.
Kick off will be at 1pm, with first grade to start at 2pm.