THE last time the Griffith Swans under 17s played in a Riverina Football League grand final, it was against the same opponent they will face this Sunday and there was a familiar name in the line-up.
Current Griffith co-coach Matt Noonan wore black and yellow that day, but 13 years later, the former Tiger is hoping for the same result he faced that day, when the Swans pipped their rivals to claim the flag.
Griffith will be out to seal its fairytale finish to the season after coming in fifth and being forced to play elimination games right up until its date with density at Narrandera.
Noonan said slight tinkering with the side's training has seen it hit top-gear in the run through the finals, which has seen the team take care of Turvey Park, Mangoplah- CUE and Leeton-Whitton.
"About nine weeks ago we added a few extra things to their training, just to try and teach them a few extra things about the game and the style of footy we want to play and it’s clicked for them and they have carried it out,” Noonan said.
“Our job at the start of the year for (co-coach) Norm (Campbell) and myself was not to coach them into a grand final, but more to mentor them teach to get them to a stage when most of them are pushing for first grade spots very soon.”
However, Noonan warned his young side it needs to harness its raw nervous energy and start better on Sunday, adding it cannot expect to finish over the top of the Tigers,
“Last time we played them we got on top of them in the first quarter, but we let them back into the game because of a 10- or 15-minute lapse in the second quarter and they got three or four quick goals,” he said.
“They’re a team that if we don’t react quickly to the sway in momentum their way, that’s when we can get a bit hurt on the scoreboard.
“But that’s not to say that our boys aren’t capable of putting three or four quick ones on them, they can, but as we said to them during the week, it’s about limiting crucial mistakes around the ground.”
Griffith will look to make the most its big advantage on Sunday – speed.
While the team is not the biggest across the park in the competition, it has plenty of fleet-footed players in all positions, with the Swans set to move the ball efficiently for teammates on a lead, giving them a chance to play-on quickly.
Joel Gordon and Tom West are the only two major injury concerns, with the side relying on their height in the middle of the field greatly.
Noonan said the pair would be given as much time as needed to prove its fitness, but was confident the pair would be right to take their place somewhere in the line-up.