ALBURY Thunder will be looking to become only the fourth Group 9 club in the past 42 years to win successive premierships when it takes on Gundagai in tomorrow’s grand final at Wagga’s Equex Centre.
After defeating Southcity in last year’s decider, Josh Cale’s team has the chance to emulate the feats of Turvey Park (1975-76), Kangaroos (1978-79 and 1999-2000-2001) and Tumut (2007-08) in completing the double.
But Cale understands that a huge obstacle stands in Albury’s way.
“Gundagai is a very dangerous side and will be difficult to contain,” Cale said.
“It has strong players all over the park so we need to match up well and make sure we compete for the full 80 minutes.
“I think last year’s experience will help us though.
“Nerves probably got to a few of the young blokes a bit last year and they should be more relaxed.
“It would be good to go back-to-back, but we have a lot of work to do for that to happen.”
Albury withstood a huge comeback to defeat Southcity 36-26 last year with the goal-kicking of Ben Jeffery keeping the raging Bulls at bay in windy conditions.
While Thunder has one of the toughest packs in the group, it also has the fittest with Lou Goodwin, Jake Grace, Andrew Cowhan, Mark Walsham and Mitch Davis bringing a new level of professionalism to the club.
Cale is confident fitness won’t be an issue.
“The boys have been driving each other on the track since last November,” he said.
“They have put in the hard work and just need to play well on the day.
“That’s what it comes down to.”
Albury broke Gundagai’s nine-match winning streak with a 40-22 win at Greenfield Park in round 16 after trailing 10-0 but the home team’s performance was significant considering Willie Heta and Walsham were unavailable.
Cale is expected to shrug off a calf injury and play after training well on Thursday.
Tomorrow’s clash is shaping as the final match of his decorated career as he expected to lead the club in a non-playing capacity next season.
“This will probably be it,” he said.
“I’m just more focused on Sunday to be honest.”