Marrar coach Shane Lenon believes the Bombers’ best is still ahead as they get set to enjoy a two-week preparation for a game that will decide the minor premiership.
The defending premiers have a bye this week before taking on North Wagga at Langtry Oval in the final round of the home-and-away season on August 18.
Both sides have only dropped one game all season and North Wagga hold a narrow percentage advantage.
Even if the Saints were to lose at The Rock this Saturday, the round 18 clash will give them a shot at reclaiming top spot, guaranteeing a high stakes encounter.
But Lenon says even with a week off, they’ll take it one week at a time.
“We haven’t mentioned it at this stage,” Marrar coach Shane Lenon said after their win against the Jets on the weekend.
“We’ll have a solid week on the track with the bye. We’ll train on the weekend, with the week off, and I probably won’t even mention it this week.
“And then we’ll start preparing Tuesday the following week.”
But Lenon agreed the game will have all the hallmarks of a finals atmosphere, from the expected crowd to the highly-prized benefit of a week off for the winner, not to mention a confidence boost for the finals.
For the second time this season, Marrar have strung together seven straight wins. North Wagga was their only stumble in the first half of the season and Lenon says he’s pleased with the way their form has returned after some inconsistency in the middle of the year.
“We’re happy with where we’re sitting at the moment. Obviously the exciting part is in front of us but we’re going along alright and I’ve been pretty happy with our last five weeks,” Lenon said.
The bonus is that they have Brad Langtry, Cal Gardner, Jackson Moye, Jeremy Rowe, Tyler Cunningham, and potentially ruckman Matt Parks all in the mix to be back for finals while controversial signings Fred Sleeth and Curtis Allen can qualify by playing the last round against North Wagga.
“I’d be confident that we’ll improve just for the fact that we’ve got some good cattle to come back into the side,” Lenon said.
“But you’ve still got to make it happen. Turning up with the right attitude, there’s a good chance we can continue to improve and that’s the name of the game.”
North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin said his side won’t be thinking about the game against Marrar until it rolls around.
“No, not yet. We’ll stick to The Rock first – they’re going alright,” Hamblin said.
The Saints have had 11 straight wins. Their only loss was a two-point upset by East Wagga-Kooringal at Gumly back in round three.
Meantime, CSU coach Pat Noonan admits their game against the Hawks this week may have a slightly unusual feel to it, given the teams are all-but guaranteed meet again two weeks later in the elimination final.
“It can say something or it mightn’t say anything,” Noonan said.
“I’d really like to win and learn from there and go on with confidence into our next game. Whoever wins will probably take a bit of confidence into that first final.
“But we just want to keep improving. We’ll have in our mind that we want to play better than we did (against The Rock-Yerong Creek on Saturday). That’s all.”