DANIEL Athanitis knew Corowa would be competitive when they joined the District competition, but he wasn't convinced they'd do as well as they have.
A host of new and former players joined Athanitis’ squad when they made the move from the WDCA to Cricket Albury-Wodonga, enough to drag a team that struggled last year to the top four this summer.
The whole club seems to have benefited from the move – their under 16s won a grand final last weekend, despite going in as massive underdogs.
Having switched to CAW to endure less travel, Athanitis said the club was keen to go all the way when they face Yackandandah this weekend.
“We didn't really come in with too many expectations,” he said.
“We wanted to come to CAW to be a bit closer to the other teams.
“Getting back the players we have has helped us a lot, we've picked up some good cricketers.”
He's not wrong – English import wicketkeeper Tyler Easton has been consistent with the gloves, Damien and Matthew Wilson have been good with the bat, Mark Athanitis has been another reliable addition.
None of them are stars necessarily, but most are above average players who have run into form at the right time of year.
“We knew we'd be competitive,” Athanitis said.
“Guys like Mark Athanitis, Nathan Rhodes and Matt Ross have been very important to us.”
Two finals one – one a nail biter over Yackandandah, the other a convincing win over Wodonga – has Corowa riding high heading into the weekend.
Make no mistake, they're not getting ahead of themselves, but there's no denying the level of confidence finals wins can instil.
“We're feeling really good, we gained a lot of confidence out of the semi-final particularly,” Athanitis said.
“We played well against Yackandandah the week before, but we probably didn't bat as well as we could have.
“We were 5/30 at one point, so we'd like to do better than that.”
On paper, there's more than a few similarities between the two grand finalists.
Both bat very deep, both carry five or six players who can reliably bowl a spell when required.
The only major difference comes in the amount of experience on each team – while Corowa are by no means a young team, the Roos will have the edge in experience thanks to the likes of Mick Walker, Darren Yates and Ben Glass.
If the hotly contested semi-final is anything to go by though, expect this grand final showdown to come down to the wire.