The Goulburn Stags scored a 6-2 win over the Crookwell Griffins on the weekend to propel them into the grand final, where Marulan White will be waiting.
Despite the relatively one-sided scoreline, Stags coach Craig Norris said that the match against Crookwell was much harder-fought than it might appear.
“The scoreline probably doesn’t reflect the closeness,” Norris said.
“Crookwell didn’t stop coming at us, but the boys were that little bit too good at the end. Every time Crookwell came back at us, they just stepped up another gear.”
Considering Crookwell’s struggles to field a full side this year, it was no surprise that they went into Saturday with only 11 players, and appeared to lag late in the match.
“Yeah, [Crookwell] were fatigued by the end of it,” Norris said.
However, he added that the Stags were also struggling following their 120-minute epic against Marulan in the semi-final.
Up to this point in the season, Marulan have been the benchmark for the rest of the teams, while the Stags have followed closely behind.
Norris is aware that his side are the underdogs in the Grand Final, but feels confident that the Stags’ many encounters against their upcoming opponents will work in their favour.
“We got close [in the semi-final], so we know we can match them and hopefully we can beat them,” he said.
“Our biggest thing is not trying to sit on a lead. If we can get in front, we’ve just gotta keep going, not trying to defend a 2-1 or a 1-0.
“We’ve just gotta keep our foot firmly pressed and keep attacking.”
The Grand Final showdown between Marulan and the Stags seemed pre-ordained to many, as both sides were expected to bring a higher quality of football to the competition.
“At the start of the season, I figured it would be both Marulan and Stags,” Norris said.
“I think after about three or fours weeks, you could just see the quality of those two teams.
“We’ve played each other a couple of times in knockout finals in the last couple of years in close games.”
The Grand Final between the Marulan Whites and the Goulburn Stags will take place at the Goulburn Workers Arena from 7.30pm on Saturday September 22.