Far from ideal grand final preparation for Hawks after bizarre preliminary final

Henwood Park coach Matt Menser described the way his team progressed to Sunday’s grand final as an “empty” feeling.

The Hawks set up a clash with Lake Albert after Tolland failed to come out of the sheds for the preliminary final on Sunday.

The two teams were locked at 0-all at the time, but the Wolves elected to forfeit the clash after discovering Bruno Andre was not on the team sheet.

Menser said it was not the way his team wanted to qualify for the grand final.

“It is a bit empty really,” Menser said.

"But on the plus side we don’t have any injuries and should all be fresh for next week.”

Against the wishes of club president Maurie Hogan, Tolland coach Chris Ayton decided to pull the pin on a chance to make the grand final.

He believed the team would be disqualified and didn’t want to risk any injuries to Henwood Park ahead of the grand final.

Menser said he understood the reasoning behind Ayton’s call, but did not agree with the decision.

“I believe you can play a game without injuring the opposition so I don’t necessarily agree with that,” he said. “But if that was their attitude then I guess that is what it is.

“We definitely wanted to play the second half, we needed to work on things and wanted to get the result, win the right way and go through.”

The Football Wagga board is looking to convene early this week to discuss the situation.

However they are still waiting for referee reports to come through.

Menser is hoping to be at full strength for the showdown with Lake Albert.

The biggest concern is over star striker Jake Ploenges.

Ploenges has struggled with a groin injury, while experienced goalkeeper Nathan Trinder also missed the preliminary final due to a sprained ankle.

Menser expects both will play.

“Jake seems to think he will be right, but we will give Tricky (Trinder) and Jake both up until the last chance to see if they will play,” he said.

However he’s willing to give the key pair up until Saturday to prove their fitness.

“I will name them and if they are right we will give them until the day before and if they are no good then we will make changes,” Menser said.

After a 5-0 loss in the first week of the finals, Menser is looking for a big improvement if they are going to get the better of the Sharks.

“They gave us a hiding last week so we have a lot of work to do this week,” he said.

“Even (Sunday) in the half we played we weren’t sharp enough, the intensity wasn’t good enough so we have a lot of work to do if we are going to beat them.”