North Wagga coach Matt Howarth is hoping to crown his career with another premiership in Saturday’s reserve grade grand final at Robertson Oval.
As the Saints prepare to take on the Bombers, Howarth reflected on his grand final memories, which include two flags, and two best-on-ground efforts in them – with Tumbarumba in 2013 and with the North Wagga twos more than a decade ago.
At 33, Howarth has been superb for the Saints, winning the league best-and-fairest. But he’s itching for team success as the curtain comes down on his playing days.
“This will be the final hurrah for me, I’ll be retiring,” Howarth said.
North Wagga are hoping to turn the tables on Marrar, who beat them by 30 points two weeks ago.
They went out and found their feet against the team that beat them in last year’s grand final, East Wagga-Kooringal.
“I definitely think having to have played three weeks in a row will benefit us,” Howarth said.
“(In the preliminary final) we got back to playing to the game plan and sticking to the structures which was a really pleasing aspect.”
Howarth said Josh Thompson has been a huge part of their side this season but last week a couple of other players with first grade experience also stepped up.
“Dave Karlberg has had a troublesome calf for most of the year but he’s started to get a couple of games under his belt and starting to find some form,” Howarth said.
“And I think with Tim Barry it was just about us in the seconds learning about him as much as him learning about us.”
I definitely think having to have played three weeks in a row will benefit us.Matt Howarth, North Wagga coach
Karlberg was best on ground and he and Barry – who had been the senior team’s full forward for much of the season – both kicked three goals.
Apart from their final, North Wagga beat Marrar by a couple of goals in round seven while the Bombers returned serve in round 16, getting up by a point at home.
“We’ve been pretty evenly matched all year,” Howarth said.
“I think if we can shut down a few of their midfielders and contain the influence that Matt Molkentin can have on the game, I think we’ll be pretty well poised.”
North Wagga are also in the Under 17s grand final and the A Grade netball decider.
“It’s a massive achievement for the club, and I think even better though has been the amalgamation of the senior and junior clubs,” Howarth said.
“I think for the whole club, it’s been a successful year.”