The Harden Hawks will be looking to go one better than last year as they prepare to take on the Crookwell Green Devils in this year’s George Tooke Shield Grand Final.
However, the Green Devils have won the last two games against Harden - a four point win early in the season and an extra time win in the major semi-final.
Having seen his side lose by a field goal in the most recent clash between the two teams, Harden coach Matt McLay is expecting another close game.
“They’re a well-drilled side,” McLay said. “They’re young and enthusiastic, so it’s going to be a tough game, no doubt about it.”
The Harden five-eighth is also aware of the danger that Crookwell’s hooker, Ben Picker, holds.
“He’s as tough as nails, he’s got great vision, a good kicking game and he leads that Crookwell side around the park very well,” McLay said. “I guess it’s about trying to mitigate the damage that he can do.
“We know what he’s going to do. We know the style of football that Crookwell will play.”
Although this will be Harden’s sixth grand final appearance in nine years, the Hawks haven’t tasted premiership success since they beat Bungendore in 2009.
Boosting Harden’s spirits is the fact that the town has a team in all three grand finals. Their Youth League side has remained undefeated on their path to a grand final against the North Canberra Bears, while their League Tag side will face the Bungendore Tigerettes.
“I think footy out in the country – even though Harden is only just over an hour away from Canberra – it’s a different vibe,” McLay said. “You get lots more fans. The locals love it, they live and breathe their footy.”
“There’s obviously a lot of depth coming through the club, a lot of country boys who just love their football and want to play with their mates.
“The girls have the same sort of thing. They grow up playing touch footy with each other, and now that league tag has come into the competition, I think they will be a side that will always be competitive.”
You can also watch the Russell Kennedy Lawyers League Tag Grand Final at 1:30pm and the Youth League Grand Final at 12pm.
Photo: R.S. Williams