Arch rivals Rams and Bush Pigs meet in the final
RUGBY UNION: Rugby Union history will be made this weekend as the Emerald Rams and Clermont Bush Pigs go head-to-head in the grand final for the 20th time in the game's 40-year history in the Central Highlands.
The championship is expected to be hard fought, with Clermont having won 10 of the previous finals and Emerald nine.
The Emerald Rams, undefeated this season, are expecting their arch rivals, the Bush Pigs, to "throw everything at us” and plan to attack the game with an attitude of zero complacency, said coach Jim Fabish.
Fabish said the team was hoping to win their fourth premiership in a row, which would make them the first team to achieve such a feat, when the game kicks off at 4pm at Emerald's Morton Park.
He said the biggest winning margin between the team's previous final games was in 2009 when the Rams defeated the Bush Pigs 25-7, and the closest winning margin was 25-24 to the Bush Pigs in 2005.
"There's a lot of pressure because we've gone through the season undefeated, but it means nothing if you don't win the grand finals,” he said.
Fabish said the Rams had been expecting to meet Blackwater in the finals.
"We've had three games against Blackwater, and it's been tight games every time, and that's the team we thought we would play.
"But the Clermont Bush Pigs pulled off a pretty major upset and scored a try on the hooter, making the score 31-26 last week.”
Around 500 people are expected at the game, and Fabish said the team would be adopting a pro-active mindset.
"I think one of the reasons Blackwater got beaten is they may have been complacent. We know we can get the job done, but we will definitely not be complacent.”
He said the team, who last had an undefeated season in 2001, had trained well this week and were feeling good.
Clermont Bush Pigs co-coach Jake Kennedy said his team was also feeling positive after last week's strong win which "really set us up with a good mind-frame heading into a tough match this week”.
"This grand final is certainly going to be a tough one,” he said.
"I think that with the quality of both teams, it's certainly going to be tight till the final minutes.”
Kennedy said training had been strong, and all team members were putting in a big effort to attend "solid” training runs in preparation for the weekend.
He said this year's season has been good, with a powerful finish over the end-of -season games.
"We have a very young team this year and our focus is just to try to help the Bush Pigs grow and develop as players. It's a credit to each and every one of them the way they have grown individually, and as a team, has been outstanding.
"It would be amazing to beat an undefeated team, especially for a young team like ours. I think I'd be speechless.”
Kennedy said the team was very grateful to its sponsors and supporters.