Albury co-coach Chris Hyde says this year’s undefeated season feels different to others.
The Tigers head into Sunday’s grand final against Wangaratta with an average winning margin of 77 points.
In the past three years, Albury has won 57 of its 59 games, but has only one premiership following Wangaratta’s 21-point upset last year.
“We are undefeated, but .. it doesn’t feel like that,” Hyde said.
“I think in years past, at times when we have been in this position, it has felt a little bit like that.”
Hyde was quick to dismiss any link between last year’s grand final, where the Tigers carried just the one loss into the game.
But he believes, just like last year, it will be a fantastic game.
“We’re confident if we can play our best style of footy that we’re going to be hard to beat and I’m sure Wang thinks the same,” he said.
The Tigers fell to Wodonga by 40 points in round two last year, one of the biggest upsets in years.
That match apart, the three-time premiers had an average winning margin of 84 points.
The Tigers had just two single-figure games. This year, they’ve had one, a two-point last-minute thriller against Wodonga Raiders in the second semi.
If the Pies were to land a second successive grand final upset, the Tigers last three years of domination with only one flag would be one of the biggest underachieving efforts in the league’s 125-year history.
But Wangaratta has won seven of its past eight games, including the preliminary final, where it stormed home to kick six straight goals to Raiders’ one four in the final term.
“I think the synergies are really starting to work well and we’ll go into this weekend with a full list to pick from and they’ve all got reasonable form,” coach Dean Stone said.
The Pies snapped a decade-long losing streak to the Tigers in the decider, but have been belted by a combined margin of 147 points in their two games this season, although the premiers were missing half their team the second time in a 97-point hiding.
“They’re a really great contested ball side, they really share the footy, they run well both ways,” Stone said.
“I think possession of the footy and controlling the ball and our efficiency with ball in hand (is) going to be really important I think.
“If you give it back, they’re going to hurt you.”
Stone also maintains the constant run through the finals has been ideal.
“The continuity of playing probably suits us and keeps us together,” he said.
The Pies boast nine travellers from Melbourne.
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