ILLAWARRA COAL LEAGUE
Helensburgh coach Ben Haran has denied there is any lingering mental scarring before the grand final after letting the major semi-final slip against Sunday's opponents Collegians.
Speaking at yesterday's grand final brunch, Haran told the Mercury the Tigers squad had taken confidence out of the narrow defeat and their rugged 25-4 victory over Wests to qualify for the decider.
More so, he believes Collies know they had their cage rattled by the premiership-starved northern club.
"We put ourselves in a position to win that game against them," Haran said.
"Our guys have got to take a lot of confidence out of that, because we know we can beat them.
"And I think the other good thing is that they know we can beat them too, that's what we needed to put in their heads."
As the psychological warfare ramped up, Helensburgh will need to overturn a zero from three record against the Wollongong powerhouse.
Collegians coach Scott Logan also believes the Dogs aren't holding a significant emotional edge for Sunday's battle.
Logan said his players simply cannot afford to believe the title is theirs because they have overpowered the Tigers previously.
Collegians turned a 28-20 deficit into a stunning 30-28 victory to be the first team to advance to the clash at WIN Stadium.
"I'm not naive enough to think just because we've beaten them three times it's a forgone conclusion," he said.
"Anything can happen on the day, it's about who prepares the best and can execute and complete [their sets] at a decent rate and can get away with it on the day."
Logan's focus will be on Collies breaking down the Helensburgh defence, which was impressive in holding Wests out after they scored an early try in the preliminary final.
"It was hard to know how Helensburgh would react after the loss to us," Logan said.
"I thought both [preliminary final] teams started slowly and a bit flat, which is understandable after playing the week before in high intensity games.
"They showed a fair bit of resolve to shut them out for the rest of the game there, they'll be happy and confident with that.
"It's definitely something we'll need to look at and try and break them down."
Both Haran and Logan claimed Collegians have the advantage after having a week off in preparation for the grand final.
Collies have played just once in the past three weeks, after claiming the minor premiership then beating Helensburgh.
"I've said to the boys before that I would have wanted to finish first and get the week off, I think it helps with your preparation a little bit," Haran conceded.
With both teams fit and close to full strength, Logan is adamant Collegians' momentum has not been interrupted by the lack of game time before taking on the Tigers, who haven't won a title since 1993.
"Regardless of who played what and who's had the week off, if you can't get yourself up for a grand final, you probably don't deserve to win it anyway," Logan said.
"The season has been quite stop-start anyway with the weather and rounds of the Country representative selections.
"We got used to having to refresh ourselves and going again, but we're coming in with six [wins] on the trot and I like to think it's not going to play a part."