Warilla Gorillas enter Sunday's grand final against Nowra-Bomaderry as firm favourite
Try as they might, the Warilla Gorillas know there's no avoiding the favourites tag for Sunday's grand final against Nowra-Bomaderry.
Warilla lost one game on the way to the minor premiership and cruised into the grand final with a convincing win over Shellharbour in the major semi-final.
The Jets reached the premiership decider the hard way, losing in the first week of the finals before bouncing back with down-to-the-wire wins over Gerringong and Shellharbour. Both times they had to overcome second-half deficits, sealing victory with late tries on each occasion.
The Gorillas are the undisputed favourites, whether they believe it or not.
"We know that no-one is the favourite, but when you get given that title, it makes it that little bit harder with the pressure and expectation," Warilla winger Jarryd Pepper said.
"Nowra play for 80 minutes and they play like they've got nothing to lose. We'd like to take a couple of points early. It's hard to trail against a team like them."
The Jets gave the Gorillas all they could handle in a 30-all draw in round 11 at Nowra Showground before Warilla won the next meeting 38-24 on home soil.
"They stuck with us for 60 minutes and then we sort of pulled through at the back end of the game. Hopefully our fitness gets us through on Sunday," Pepper said.
A former Warilla junior, Pepper has been a regular first grader since 2008.
The 26-year-old was part of the club's 2011 premiership-winning team and experienced the heartache of last year's 14-13 grand final loss to Gerringong.
"We've been there before and we don't want to drop our guard and think we've got it," he said.
"We're not thinking of the past. We're just thinking of this one game and we really want to take it."
Gerringong take on Kiama in the reserve grade grand final and are represented in the under-18s clash against Shellharbour Sharks.
Albion Park Outlaws meet Stingrays of Shellharbour in the third grade decider.
This article originally appeared in the Illawarra Mercury on 17/9/2014