YSC, HFC ready for grand final replay

Football

IT'S been a long, long wait but bitter rivals Yoogali SC and Hanwood FC are dying to renew hostilities in Sunday's GDFA grand final replay at EW Moore Oval.

The long-awaited rematch will kick off the new season - one that is again expected to be dominated by Griffith's two strongest clubs.

"Are we ready? We're just hanging for a proper game," YSC coach Sante Donadel said.

"We know what we have to do. 

"There could be a few surprises this year (in the competition) so we just want to get going."

The reigning GDFA champions might be without superboot Dane Ballard and midfield maestro Matthew Gilston this season, but last month's Real Juice Cup win proved they will be as formidable as ever.

Still riding high from beating Hanwood 2-1 in the pre-season decider - on the back of last year's 1-0 GDFA grand final win - Donadel's men will be keen to keep the wood over the minor premiers.

"It's a good way to start because there's been a build-up to it," he said.

"I suppose they do it in the NRL and all that with grand final replays in the first round. It's a matter of starting the season off good, if we can, and then we'll know what we're working with and what we have to work towards."

For Hanwood, it's all about revenge.

The club is still reeling from YSC's clean sweep of four GDFA grand final wins across four grades and is desperate to ensure a day like that never happens again.

Captain-coach Anthony Agresta admitted his squad is "buzzing".

"You can't turn back time," he said.

"Now it's just about moving on and giving ourselves the best chance of getting back there and hopefully redeeming ourselves."

Agresta said he was confident HFC has put an indifferent pre-season campaign behind them and is ready to start the real stuff.

Hanwood started off well with good performances in friendlies against Marconi, Albury United and Melrose, but failed at the last hurdle in the Real Juice Cup and surrendered the Musitano Cup to Yoogali FC last month.

"We hit a bit of a lull there but I think the last couple of weeks we've gotten back on track," Agresta said.

"Now we can test ourselves and see if we really are."

Both sides will take strong squads into the grand final replay but several players are carrying niggling injuries, including YSC pair Grant Davidson (ankle) and Ryan Spencer (hamstring) and Hanwood's Joey Schirripa (calf).

All three, however, are expected to play given the importance of the fixture.

But the real interest lies in who plays up front following the departures of YSC's Dane Ballard and HFC's Brandon Barski, who together were responsible for nearly 20 per cent of all goals scored in the GDFA first-grade last year.

Hanwood's new English import Matt Fearon has settled well but is better suited in midfield, while YSC are still experimenting in the final third.

"It has been (a problem area) and that's why over the last couple of weeks we've tried a few different things," Agresta said.

"We'll probably keep trying different things on the weekend.

"It's early days so if results don't go our way, it won't be panic stations just yet. It all takes time."

Donadel said: "We haven't got an out-and-out striker but we've got a good squad everywhere else."

"We've got enough good players there to cover every spot on the field hopefully.

"We might play a different system but I just don't know. We've got options, that's the main thing."

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