Defence and discipline have been the main talking points for Warilla heading into Sunday’s grand final with Gerringong.
The Gorillas delivered on a pact they made at the start of the season to be Group Seven’s best defensive side, conceding a competition-low 234 points.
But they are so uncompromising in defence that they occasionally test the patience of match officials by being over-aggressive.
The Lions privately thought Warilla got away with a couple of high shots in the major semi-final and are counting on referee Nick McInerney to keep a close eye on proceedings tomorrow.
Gorillas coach Peter Hooper won’t ask his players to curb their aggression, but he is hoping they play smart and keep penalties to an absolute minimum.
‘‘We lacked a little discipline in the major semi and invited them down, but we got it right towards the back end of the second half,’’ Hooper said.
‘‘We’ll look for more of that last 20 minutes for the first 60 on Sunday, just be disciplined and control the ball.’’
Gerringong plan on playing a fast-paced game to avoid a low-scoring tackle-athon with the Gorillas.
‘‘We build our whole season on defending well, and if our attitude’s right in defence, it helps other areas of our game,’’ Hooper said.
‘‘We’ll be sticking tight, because the better we defend, the more we go in numbers offensively.’’
Tomorrow’s clash is the third grand final between Warilla and Gerringong in the past four years.
The Lions won by a point in 2010 before the Gorillas got revenge with a 36-6 victory the following season.
Gerringong claimed this year’s minor premiership, only to go down 26-16 to Warilla in the major semi.
The Lions bounced back with last week’s win over Jamberoo in the preliminary final and are playing in their fourth consecutive premiership decider.
Not surprisingly, the Gorillas will bank on their dominant forward pack to lead the way tomorrow.
‘‘Both clubs are aware of what each other’s strengths are, so there’s no secret with the way we’re going to play,’’ Hooper said.
‘‘It’s two great clubs going at one another come Sunday. There’s great players on both sides.
‘‘We’ll rely on our big forward pack to win the middle third and then look to the edges if need be.
‘‘Everything’s worked for us this year and we’re not going to be changing too much, but I’m aware Gerringong will come in with the same mindset.’’
Warilla are still without experienced prop Andrew Diomei (broken thumb), while the Lions are resigned to being without Group Seven leading scorer Joel Roberts (broken hand) at fullback.
‘‘It’s a shame for the old fella [Diomei] but he’s no chance of playing,’’ Hooper said.
‘‘We’ll have the same 17 as we did in the major semi.’’
Gerringong props Tim Moore and Adam Thompson have important roles to play against Warilla’s powerful pack.
‘‘Timmy Moore’s improved into a seasoned campaigner at such a young age, and he holds the key for them in the middle of the field,’’ Hooper said.
Gerringong and Warilla also square off in reserve grade, Berry-Shoalhaven Heads play Kiama in under 18, while Nowra-Bomaderry are against Kiama in Ladies League Tag.
Grand final fast facts
• Prior to 2010, Warilla and Gerringong had met in the grand final just once (1994) in 96 years. Tomorrow, they will clash in their third grand final in the past four years.
• Gerringong have won 16 Group Seven premierships. Warilla have won exactly half that amount.
• In their first grand final meeting in ’94, the Lions trailed 6-2 at half-time but came back to prevail 9-6 in a boilover.
• Gorillas coach Peter Hooper played off the reserves bench in that ’94 loss to the Lions.