KAIDYN Saunders will head into tomorrow’s battle of the birds Second Division grand final with some extra insight into his opposition after the Werris Creek Magpies fullback takes the field against the Kootingal Roosters, and the team mates he lined up with in last season’s decider.
The rangy ball runner was often a stand-out at lock or in the second row for the Roosters as they flew through the regular season undefeated.
The Roosters were then upset in the grand final by Dungowan and Saunders believes they are ripe for the taking again after they capitulated to the Magpies’ pressure in the major semi-final and then just scraped by Boggabri in the preliminary final last week.
Saunders was there, amongst a group of Magpies keen to find out first-hand who would be making the final road trip of the season.
“It’s just awesome to be in the grand final and we are playing pretty well,” Saunders said.
“I don’t think it would have mattered much to us who we play – both are tough.”
Saunders and the Magpies have taken plenty out of their semi-final victory over the minor premiers two weeks ago.
The visitors took it to the Roosters that day.
“We played pretty well but we have been building to that all season,” Saunders said.
“We are in a good spot to do it again and it is good to know that we’ve done it once already.”
That semi-final win was the first time that Werris Creek have beaten Kootingal since they last played in a grand final at Werris Creek in 2012.
Saunders was a part of that win and wants to hold the shield high at home again.
“We are all pretty excited and just ready to go,” Saunders said.
While last year he was a force at lock for the Roosters, this season he has been a dangerous ball-running try-scorer either in the centres or at fullback, a position he was very pleased to return to this season.
“I always played fullback and in the backs – I only played lock when I went to Kooty last season,” Saunders said.
“I love the room back there with the ball coming to you.”
Saunders picked up 11 tries in the regular season, although was far from the top try-scorer in a backline that includes mercurial playmaker Stuart Porter and his halves partner Latrell Hampton, as well as line breakers Nathanial Slater and Zac Darcy out wide.
Slater and Darcy came second and fifth respectively on the tally with 21 and 19 tries, while Hampton crossed for a treble in the major semi-final at Kootingal.
Those tries have generally been the result of the ball coming out from Thomas Brown and Bryce Parsons in the middle.
“Our pack has been good this season and we have points out wide,” Saunders said.
“Just need more of the same.”