IN FORM: Chinchilla Bears' Matt Hoffman during training on Tuesday night.
IN FORM: Chinchilla Bears' Matt Hoffman during training on Tuesday night. Matthew Newton

Bears ready to rumble ahead of weekend's grand final

FOOTBALL: This Sunday, the Bears will be defending their title against Toowoomba club Highfields in the grand final match at West Wanderers field in Toowoomba.

Although the Bears look very different compared to the side that defeated Dalby in the 2015 Grand Final, the side has developed into a strong unit with the injection of six young men from the Junior Premier age division keen to show that they have what it takes to win a title.

The Bears enjoyed the week end off after winning the qualifying semi-final against Dalby on August 28, which meant Dalby had to play Highfields last Sunday, September 4.

This was a very tight game with Highfields scoring early in the second half and Dalby unable to find the equaliser to force the game into extra time.

Dalby had not lost a fixture all season, but then losing both semi-finals saw their 2016 season come to a disappointing and abrupt end.

Highfields' performance over the last few months has been improving. They disposed of Willowburn City in the minor semi-final 3-1 and have gained confidence after their performance against Dalby.

The Bears results against Highfields this season has been a home and away win and an away draw, but with the additional pressure of a grand final appearance, this clash will be tough.

The Bears will be re-writing the history books if they can bring home the trophy again this year, as they have not been able to win back-to-back titles since their efforts in Roma in the early 90s with wins in 1993 and 1994.

They have had many final appearances and heart-wrenching grand final losses, but have won the title in Toowoomba three times and looking to make this one number four.

The squad consists of captain Dan Harmon in goal, Lane Hewitt, Stuart Hope, Jonty Calleja and Dan Lowder in defence. The midfield will see Neil Stevenson, Matthew Clarke, Joe Hobbs, Sean Dolbel and Ross Cardillo churning away in the engine room. Playing out wide is Dylan Margetts, Matthew Hoffmann, James Drabsch, Geoff Fullerton and Sean Bowman.

The strike power up front is Mark Johnson and James Cardillo. Out due to injury are Brenton Bourke, Simon Tanti and Sam Cowen. Mark Johnson has led the way in front of goal with 14 goals for the season. He is the division's top goal scorer for the season.

With his strength on the ball and his attacking speed, Mark is a handful for any defence. Matthew Clarke and James Cardillo have also put away seven and five goals respectively.

They have been able to poach goals from underneath the defence's nose. With coach Brett Bowman deciding to play a new formation earlier this season, the Bears have only really settled into it in the last three or four games.

When this formation is firing, it is difficult for the opposition to contain and some great penetration can be achieved out wide.

With all this said, a team with great tactics and form can sometimes buckle to the pressure of the big match - grand final fever.

The Bears have some great experience in the side, with Hope, Stevenson and Cardillo already with three flags in their kit.

They will look to steer the grand final debutantes towards success with some pressure deflecting support play and confident passing.

But all in all this match will most definitely be won by the team with the most hunger for the ball, and the ability to capitalise on the opportunities presented in front of goal.

The match kicks off at 1pm. Go the Bears!