REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS -  PHOTO: SCOTT DAVIS - SMPIMAGES.COM - EASTS V REDCLIFFE, 21ST SEPTEMBER 2014 - Action from the Queensland Rugby League, FOGS CUP Preliminary Final between the Easts Tigers and the Redcliffe Dolphins, being played at Langlands Park, Brisbane. This image is for Editorial Use Only. Any further use or individual sale of the image must be cleared by application to the Manager Sports Media Publishing (SMP Images). PHOTO : Scott Davis SMP IMAGES

EASTS Tigers FOGS Cup coach Scott Sipple praised his team’s defence over the course of the past month, claiming it was the key to the side’s run into the finals.

The Tigers toppled joint-minor premiers the Redcliffe Dolphins 20-6 last Sunday to secure their third consecutive grand final appearance. They meet a Wynnum Manly side who booked their spot in the decider a week earlier, when they also defeated Redcliffe, 32-24.

Last year’s premiers have only a handful of players remaining from the 2013 decider where they defeated the Ipswich Jets for the title; and with a predominantly fresh-faced squad Sipple believes last year’s grand final experience means little.

“It looks good on paper, but at the end of the day it’s irrelevant. Last year was last year,” he said.

Easts have had Wynnum’s measure thus far this year, winning three of their four meetings including a 50-14 rout in round 24.

In fact, Wynnum have lost only two games since round 12; both to the Tigers. Sipple however still believes the Seagulls deserve to considered favourites heading into Sunday’s match, owing in-part to their strong forward pack.

“We need to hold their forwards,” he said. “They have a big forward pack that can offload, and they are very physical.”

The coach said his message to the team would be simple: “Run hard, tackle hard, and do the little things right,” he said. 

“Leave with no excuses at the end. If we turn up for each other, the result will take care of itself.”

Seagulls captain Hanan Laban believes the Tigers have been the best performed team in the competition over the last month, and they pose a unique challenge.

“They are a difficult matchup for us,” he said. “We are a big side and like to play up the middle, while they like to throw the ball around a bit more.”

Laban said his side was treating this week just like any other, although at times it was hard to contain the excitement.

“A lot of the boys are saying the week is dragging on, they just can’t wait to play.”

As the captain of the side, Laban said he would stress to his team-mates the importance of finishing their season in the best possible way, as opportunities such as this come around rarely.

“We have a good bunch of players” Laban said, “and it [winning the grand final] gives more meaning when playing with your mates.”

Team Lists for the FOGS Cup grand final: 2014 grand final team lists