Wagga’s top referee has predicted an exhilarating Southern Inland grand final when Wagga Waratahs and Ag College lock horns on Saturday.
Southern Inland Rugby Referees Association president Sam Donelan will take up the whistle for a second consecutive grand final after adjudicating Leeton’s thrilling win over Waratahs last year and is excited to see the competition’s best collide.
“It’s shaping up to be a bit of a David and Goliath battle between those two, isn’t it?” Donelan said.
“Tahs have been strong all year but Ag College have just kept on chugging along – they’re like The Little Engine That Could.”
Essential Southern Inland grand final reading:
“But you just never know what can happen in a grand final. Nothing’s off the table,” Donelan said.
Donelan has provided a measured voice in the middle during his lengthy Southern Inland career but is yet to officiate a game between Tahs and Ag College this season.
That in itself poses no worries for the seasoned whistleblower and he’s already laid out clear expectations for the penultimate showdown.
“As a referee, it’s just about staying calm and providing the right environment for teams to play the way they want, provided it’s within the laws of the game,” Donelan said.
“I think teams always aim to play a fast and expansive game and I think both teams will be looking to play that way in the final, so hopefully the rain stays away and we can have a free-flowing game.”
Ahead of the grand final, Donelan took the opportunity to thank the efforts of affiliate clubs and volunteers who have stepped up to fill the gaps in a tough year for match officials.
“It’s no secret that we’ve had a lean year with referees and on behalf of SIRRA, I just want to acknowledge the support that clubs have provided throughout the season,” Donelan said.
“It’s never been an ‘us versus them’ relationship between referees and clubs, it’s very much a collegiate relationship and we really appreciate their efforts this year.
“In the end, that’s what footy in the bush is all about – looking after each other and having fun.”
The grand final will be played at Conolly Rugby Complex this Saturday.
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