Time for Tigers to stand tall

ALBURY coach Neale Poole says the burden of history won’t weigh down his side in Sunday’s thirds grand final against Wangaratta.

The Tigers have made their first decider in 22 years and can break a 39-year premiership drought with victory at Lavington Oval.

Albury will play in just its third grand final — it won the first under-18 decider in 1973 and lost to Myrtleford in 1990 — and first-year coach Poole said the side was determined to claim some overdue silverware.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Poole said.

“The thirds at Albury haven’t been in one for a while so we are all looking forward to it.

“They have been few and far between.”

The Magpies will be aiming for back-to-back flags, a feat the club hasn’t achieved in more than 30 years the last time in 1975-1976.

All-conquering Wodonga was the last to claim consecutive premierships, winning four in a row from 2004-2007.

First-year Magpies coach Carl Norton said the prospect of winning consecutive flags would not act as motivation for his side.

“I haven’t even spoken about it,” said Norton, who played almost 150 senior games for the club and won five Leo Burke medals.

“We’ve got 11 new guys in the side this year.

“We’ve just been focusing on training this week and not getting caught up about thinking about the prize on offer.

“We just want to think about the challenge ahead, which is Albury.

“We want to keep the young guys focused.”

The clubs have clashed three times this season, with Wangaratta winning by 12 points in round 1, Albury winning by 37 in round 10 and Wangaratta winning by 19 in the second semi-final.

Poole said the Tigers would try to emulate their performance from round 10, when the likes of James Wilson, Jed Andrew and Isaac Edgar starred in the 13.11 (89) to 8.4 (52) win.

“We just went out with the aim to pressure them and we always refer back to that day,” Poole said.

“It was a bit of a benchmark for our pressure.

“They hadn’t lost a game at that stage.

“Give them any time and space and they will be very hard to beat.”

Norton said Wangaratta, which will be hoping Sam Maddern, Ben Mulrooney and Jade Cleeland continue their outstanding seasons, isn’t expecting a high-scoring encounter in Sunday’s grand final.

“We’ve had three good hard games heading in and are expecting nothing less on Sunday,” he said.

“Both sides have been really good this year.

“Albury are a great side; really consistent and even across the board.

“We have a lot of respect for them.

“Generally finals are pretty hard-fought contests and pretty congested.

“Both sides have got good forwards whoever gets it in there the most should win.”