North Wagga will put their faith in key defender Brayden Skeers to stop Temora spearhead Matt Wallis at Robertson Oval on Saturday.
North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin believes curbing the influence of Wallis is one of the keys to a Saints victory in Saturday’s qualifying final.
Wallis booted eight goals in a losing Temora side the last time the two teams met on August 4, when the Saints prevailed by 25 points.
Hamblin said stopping Wallis will be a key focus for North Wagga on Saturday.
“The main focus will be the centre clearances to try and limit the supply to Matt Wallis,” Hamblin said.
“He kicked eight goals on us last time and he’s very dangerous one-on-one.
“Part of stopping him on the weekend will be pressure up the ground.”
Wallis got the better of Skeers in their last battle, but Hamblin is confident the Saints junior is the best man for the job.
“Brayden Skeers will play on him. He’s an absolute jet,” he said.
“Last time four of (Wallis’) goals came from turnovers, which wasn’t his fault.”
North Wagga will be out to bounce back from a final round defeat to Marrar that ended the Saints’ 12-game winning streak.
The eight-point loss has not dented Hamblin’s faith in his team.
“It was a pretty tight contest last week and I felt the game could have gone either way,” he said.
“Marrar probably played the conditions that little bit better and got the win they were after.
“It was good to get a bit of a measuring stick of where Marrar was at because they have been a bit unpredictable with not getting much continuity with the same team with injuries and those sort of things.”
North Wagga has beaten Temora on both occasions this season. They defeated the Kangaroos at Nixon Park by 37 points, before enjoying a 25-point victory at home earlier this month.
Hamblin said those results give North Wagga confidence.
“For sure, we’ll go in with confidence. I feel we’ve had a pretty good year and been consistent,” he said.
“Our goal was to finish top three so it’s good that we’ve achieved that and we’re happy with that but we’ve still got a lot of footy to play.
“Temora are a pretty dangerous side come finals so we won’t be taking them lightly.”
North Wagga have not won a final since 2015. They missed finals in 2016 and then bowed out in straight sets last year.
Hamblin said there is no pressure heading into this year’s finals campaign.
“I don’t think so,” he said.
“I haven’t felt it and the boys haven’t said anything.”