FORGET about a pre-grand final slanging match - Avondale coach James Patrick actually sympathises with adversaries Tech Waratahs.
The Tahs have lost experienced halfback Josh Darby through suspension for the premiership decider - he received his third yellow card of the season in the major semi-final - and Patrick wished it wasn't so.
"I feel for the guy. You don't wish that on anybody," Patrick said.
"One of our boys [Kyle Moody] missed last year's grand final for the same thing.
"I've known Josh since I got here 10 years ago. He's going to be sorely missed for them.
"[Tahs fly-half] Lee [Martin] works a lot better with Josh and it's a big hole to fill for [coach] Sean [Filan] and his boys."
Avondale advanced to their fourth grand final in five years with a 56-3 rout of Shoalhaven in last Saturday's final.
The Wombats are also in the second grade premiership decider, while Tech Waratahs will be represented in all three grades.
Camden are the only other club involved on Saturday and will take on the Tahs in third grade.
Patrick believes the major semifinal loss to the Tahs jolted the Wombats into action.
"Having that extra game works out better for us. We're better when we're consistently playing," he said.
"We played a hard game the week before against Tech. We take nothing away from Tech. They're a brilliant team and I've said it all year. It's just that we're better with momentum because we've always seemed to struggle after a bye."
Despite failing at their three previous grand final attempts, including last year's loss to Vikings, the Wombats are confident of claiming their first title.
"Last year I let the boys decide what they wanted to do. This year it'll be a little different," Patrick said.
"It'll be my way and that's exactly how we'll do it, and we've been doing it all through the semi-finals. The boys have done everything I've asked of them and more.
"I'm happy with how we're travelling and I'm proud of our boys. We'll soak up the week and it'll be good to get out there on Saturday.
"Everybody's good. There was a couple of big collisions on the weekend and there's some bruises there, but we're good."
Filan is expected to move reliable Wayne Bruton into the vacant halfback position and is confident he is the right man for the job.