JUST over 12 months ago, Jamberoo and Kiama were preparing to battle it out in the Group Seven grand final.
Fast forward to 2018 and the pair meet again – this time, one game short of the decider, in the first grade preliminary final.
That means, only one of Jono Dallas and Matt Clarke’s team will play in back-to-back grand finals, with Saturday’s winner at the Kiama Showground set to take on Shellharbour on Sunday, September 16.
To get to this point, the pair have endured very different fortunes, especially in recent weeks.
Dallas’ reigning premiers are a team full of momentum, after strong wins against Gerringong at Michael Cronin Oval and Warilla-Lake South at Kevin Walsh Oval.
“Obviously momentum is massive in finals but it’s not everything,” Dallas said.
“It’s definitely better to have it [momentum] than to not have it, as you come into each match on the back of a win.
“Our mentality won’t change this week – we knew from the start of the finals, that to get where we wanted to get to, we would have to beat everyone.
“It doesn’t bother us who or where we are playing, as long as we approach the game right – which we have done the past two weeks – I know we will come out on top.
“And with most of the group enjoying the success last year, they now the reward at the end of the road.”
The Roos opponent on Saturday, the Knights, come into the clash fresh off a loss to the Shellharbour Sharks (46-14) just six days ago.
“You can scrap Kiama’s last game, as they hadn’t been beaten like that all season – it was just one of those games,” Dallas said.
“But I’m sure it will still be in the back of their heads, as you don’t completely forget about those games quickly.
“To ensure we beat Kiama, who are not to indifferent to Gerringong, we need to limit their strengths, which is based around speed.
“If we can restrict the chances their quick players have, it should stifle their attack.
“I’m expecting nothing short of a momentum clash, because both teams seem to bring out the best in each other – especially when you consider our experiences last year.”
While Dallas’ counterpart Clarke admits last week as ‘one to forget’, he says they must learn from it if they are to defeat Jamberoo on Saturday.
“We started well last week but once they got their roll on, we couldn’t stop them,” Clarke said.
“It also did help that we only completed 50 per cent of our sets – you’ll struggle to win any game of footy with that, let alone a semi-final.
“I think that’s the main reason why the scoreline ballooned the way it did.”
One positive for Clarke’s men, who welcome back Brad Scott this week, is they have beaten Jamberoo on both occasions this season.
“Those wins don’t mean too much come this time of the season except giving the boys confidence that we can beat them,” he said.
“They [Jamberoo] are playing great footy at the moment, knocking-off two title contenders in a row.
“But it we can hold the ball and complete our sets on offence and win the ruck contest, against their big middles, on defence, the rest should take care of itself.
This first grade match (3pm) will follow; reserve grade at 1.30pm (Jamberoo vs Albion Park-Oak Flats), Women’s League Tag one at 12.30pm (Jamberoo vs Stingrays), under 18s at 11am (Milton-Ulladulla vs Berry-Shoalhaven Heads), third grade at 9.30am (Sussex Inlet vs Wreck Bay) and WLT two at 8.30am (Albion Park-Oak Flats vs Kiama).