Few outside the Woodberry Warriors gave them a chance of winning a game let alone making the grand final when they were promoted from D-grade to B-grade after the first three rounds of 2018.
Barbs in their first game after promotion from the Kearsley fans that they didn’t belong in B-grade and wouldn’t win a game stung the Warriors players, but not nearly much as their tackles stung the Crushers players and after trailing early they earned a hard-fought 18-all draw.
After gaining two points via a forfeit by North Newcastle, the Warriors coached by Hunter league legend Noel Dent silenced the doubters beating top-five teams West Wallsend and Wallsend Maryland in their next two games and then dispatching bottom-side Dudley in emphatic fashion.
The former Maitland Pickers and Macquarie Scorpions premiership coach and his no-frills Warriors continued to defy others’ expectations to take out the minor premiership finishing equal on points with West Wallsend and Wallsend Maryland but claiming the title on for and against.
The formula was basic footy, scoring points on the back of solid defence and sticking by their mates and they will need to nail it against the form side of finals University of Newcastle who have progressed to the grand final from the elimination final.
“They are young, fast and enthusiastic and have a heap of confidence after beating all comers to make the grand final,” Dent said at training on Tuesday night when he brought in his former right-hand man at the Pickers and 2011 premiership coach Trevor Ott.
“They have three or four players who could play first grade in the Newcastle comp, we have to be right on top in defence if we are to win.
“I brought Trev in to go over some of the defensive techniques we worked together on at the Pickers which gave us the edge to win the back-to-back premierships.
“Every second you can gain with defence allows you to get back and set your line and be ready.
“We were able to give ourselves 10 seconds from the first contact to the play the ball, it’s a big advantage.”
Dent said he would be stepping aside from coaching after this season to spend more time with his family, but had loved his involvement with the Warriors, who he first coached 15 years ago.
“There are no big names, but the players give it their all,” he said.
“The committee and volunteers work so hard and really deserve a premiership for all their efforts.
“They are a great bunch and if we don’t win on Saturday it won’t be through lack of effort.”
Saturday’s B-grade grand final is at the Newcastle No.1 Sportsground. Kick off is at 2pm