Jorge De Matos and Franc Pierro have the chance to cap a dream campaign in charge of their respective Premier League sides on Sunday.
De Matos and Pierro are both first-year head coaches, having steered Cringila and Coniston respectfully to grand final day at WIN Stadium.
Their journeys to this position have been contrasting, but equally intriguing.
De Matos has been part of a vital two-man combination - alongside Icko Atanasoski - which has seen the Lions transform from being cellar-dwellers to IPL contenders in just two years.
Atanasoski was head coach and De Matos played the role of assistant in 2022, however, De Matos often stepped up to take the reins last year. He officially took over as Cringila's head coach this year, with Atanasoski becoming assistant.
It proved to be a smooth transition as the Lions finished their regular season in second position. They then overcame two tough opponents in finals (Olympic and Albion Park) to book their ticket to the grand final.
"It's a terrific feeling obviously, on a personal level," De Matos told the Mercury.
"But for me, it's always been about getting the club back to where I felt like it belongs. It had been a long time since Cringila had been in the finals, so it's an exciting time for everyone. I'm part of the project - and it's my first year (in charge) - but this is the third year that the new committee has been involved. It's been a massive turnaround for the club as a whole.
"It's an exciting time in my young career and I'm humbled to be here, so I'm looking to forward to the experience on Sunday."
Meanwhile, Pierro's opportunity to take the helm at Coniston came at an unexpected time.
The club announced in May that they had parted ways with head coach Rob Jonovski, effective immediately, leaving a gap that needed to be filled quickly. Fortunately, one of Cono's favourite sons was waiting in the wings, ready to give back to his beloved club.
Just two years after hanging up the boots, Pierro was unveiled as Coniston's new gaffer in mid-May.
After retiring from the game due to injury in 2021, Pierro joined the club's under-18s coaching staff before stepping up to be head coach of their IPL second grade side last year, where he guided them to grand final glory.
Despite that interruption, Coniston pushed forward to finish the season in fourth place. They have then hit their straps in finals, claiming successive wins over Bulli, Olympic and the White Eagles to advance to this year's decider.
"Being my first year in charge, I've taken it game by game. But I'm super proud of the effort of everyone," Pierro said
"It feels great that we're really putting it all together and showing that on the field. The players knew that they had what it takes and they're now applying that against the top sides.
"I'm pleased that the boys have been playing great football and enjoying themselves."
"Being my first year in charge, I've taken it game by game. But I'm super proud of the effort of everyone."
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