TUMBARUMBA Greens stalwart Nathan Hammond says their get out of jail effort in the major semi was a timely warning this Sunday's Murray Cup grand final against Corowa won't be a procession, despite their dominant maiden season.
A lack of player numbers prompted the Greens to withdraw from Group Nine at the end of the 2017 season, before taking a hiatus last year.
They won all 14 regular season games by an average of nearly 25 points, but only overcame CSU 14-10 in the major semi thanks to a converted try on the final play of the game from Steven Arnold.
The clash at Albury's Greenfield Park is the first top grade grand final appearance for the Greens since they were beaten by the Kangaroos in the 2000 Group Nine decider.
The Greens don't pay their team, made up completely of local players, a major factor in their return from the wilderness.
Tumbarumba was only accepted into the Murray Cup a fortnight before the season began, when they were in the midst of playing in the Tumut Nines.
They felt the pre-season competition may have been the only football they play this year until the Albury pub competition handed them a lifeline.
They beat Corowa by 18 points in both meetings this year, including their return to the field in round one.
"There's been some big scores through the competition but we haven't really flogged anyone really badly, there's been quite a few close games as well," halfback Hammond said.
"Most clubs you feel come up here to get into you as well because of where you are on the ladder, which is new to us as well.
"We were on the other side of the coin (in Group Nine) I guess, beaten more often than not and sometimes by substantial margins.
"It came down to the last play of the game to go straight down to the grand final and we competed right to the end.
"It comes down to the pre-season competition we played in, it put us in really good stead for the competition."
Hammond believes their ability to play out games will hold them in good stead against the Cougars.
"We've just got to move them around. They've got a big pack and hopefully we can get them at the end of the game," he said.
"We feel like we're pretty fit due to the amount of football we've played, and hopefully that will pay dividends for us."
The grand final kicks off at 2.30pm, after the women's league tag clash between the Greens and CSU at 1pm.