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The finals arm wrestle begins for the Group 9 title

Following one of the closest regular seasons on record, it only seems fitting that any of the five teams in Group 9 finals kicking off this weekend (26-27 August), could go all the way in 2023.

Only two competition points separated the top four, with Minor Premiers Temora finishing a game ahead of Wagga Kangaroos (2nd), Tumut (3rd) and Young (4th).

Rounding out the top five is Albury, who did enough to keep defending premiers Gundagai out of the finals series.

Group 9 has always had a dominant team, or at least 'the side to beat' in any given year.

After Albury won three titles between 2012-14, Gundagai (2015, 2018, 2020, 2022) and South City (2016-17) won six of the past seven titles, with Tumut changing things up when they won in 2019.

This season has been very different, and no one team has stood out consistently above the rest.

Temora are the Minor Premiers, but they lost to wooden spooners Junee during the regular competition.

Albury has toppled Wagga Kangaroos and Tumut, and Young has had their moments, losing to Gundagai and nearly falling to Junee.

Tomorrow, Young and Albury will fight for survival in the elimination final at Alfred Oval.

On Sunday, Wagga Kangaroos and Tumut will have a second chance up their sleeves when battling in the Qualifying final at McDonald's Park.

The winner earns the right to play Temora the following weekend in the Major Semi-final at Nixon Park.

Group 9 action between Wagga v Albury. Photo: Cat Butler Photography
Group 9 action between Wagga v Albury. Photo: Cat Butler Photography

Group 9 Vice-Chairman Bernie Delaney is looking forward to a massive weekend of Rugby League, and touched on the closeness of the competition heralding an enthralling finals series.

"This is, without a doubt, the closest competition I've seen," Delaney said.

"It's great for the competition, and I really think the points system (Player Points Index System) has made a difference and created such a close competition.

"Instead of clubs pillaging players from other teams in the competition, they are looking for talent from outside, which has made the competition so much stronger."

As far as who will go all the way in 2023, Delaney has Tumut on top, but only just.

"To be quite honest, any team can win it, and whoever gets there to the Grand Final will have earned their right because it's not going to be easy," Delaney said.

"Every side has had their moments, but if I were putting up a market, I'd say Tumut are favourites, just ahead of Temora, Roos, Young and Albury."

Huge crowds are expected in Young tomorrow and Wagga on Sunday, but for Rugby League supporters unable to get to games on the weekend, Group 9 will also livestream all contests via All In Sports.

For all Group 9 competition results and draws, click here.

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