The Kempsey Saints reserve grade side claimed the minor premiership but coach Kevin Sinclair believes the title counts for little if the side doesn’t secure the major premiership in the grand final this Saturday.
The Saints earned their spot in the grand final by defeating the Forster-Tuncurry Tigers, who they will play in the decider, 1-0 in the grand final qualifier a fortnight ago.
“The finals is an entirely new competition, we won the regular season but now we need to win the finals,” Sinclair said.
“It’s great to claim the league but the real prize is the grand final.”
The Saints haven’t lost to the Tigers this year, splitting the points in a 1-1 draw in their first meeting before they earned a comfortable 5-2 win later in the season.
However, Sinclair is expecting a close contest with little separating the two sides.
“It will be a tight game, similar to the last match which came down to a single kick – it’s a coin flip, it could go our way or against us,” he said.
The Tigers defeated the Macleay Valley Rangers 3-1 to book their place in the grand final, and it is their attacking ability which is causing Sinclair headaches.
“They press really high up the field, play a strong attacking game,” Sinclair said.
“They are prepared to give the midfield away to throw extra men forward and they have plenty of goals in them.
“They are strong all across the park, have a good team, are well coached and it will take a great performance from us to earn the victory.”
The Tigers scored 38 times in their 18 regular season games, however the Saints held them to three goals in their two meetings and scoreless in the grand final qualifier.
The key to their defensive structure is maintaining possession and limiting the opportunities of the Tigers.
“We need to hold onto the ball and stick to our structures, it has worked well for us all season and it will get us over the line on Saturday,” Sinclair said.
“The side has played together for a few years and the combinations developed overtime will play an important role.”
Despite holding the minor premiership tag, and not losing to the Tigers this year, Sinclair doesn’t believe the pressure is on his side to win.
“They’re feeling relaxed and have enjoyed the weeks leading up to this Saturday,” he said.
The Tigers applied plenty of pressure to the Saints’ goal in their last meeting, but the Saints defence held firm.
The Saints have lost only two games all season and won 11 of their games.
The match kicks off at Port Regional Stadium, Port Macquarie, at 5.15pm, with the first grade match between Port United and Wallis Lakes to follow.