THE countdown to tomorrow's Namibian Premier League rugby final between Western Suburbs and Rehoboth has begun, with both teams highly motivated and determined to win the match.
After an absorbing season, that saw teams like Mariental, United and Reho Falcon leading the log at various stages, the defending champions Western Suburbs and last season's losing finalists Rehoboth have once again qualified for the final.
Both sides are worthy finalists, after making their mark on Namibian rugby in recent years.
Suburbs are the defending champions and tomorrow's match will be the second successive year that they meet Rehoboth in the final.
Last year, Suburbs beat Rehoboth 27-22 to win the trophy for the second time in five years, after their first success in 2008.
Rehoboth have only won the title once, in 2009, but since then they have been the losing finalists for three years in a row while tomorrow's final will be their fifth consecutive final.
The two sides have weighed up very evenly this season with Suburbs winning their first round match 24-21 at Suburbs Park after a late penalty by Shaun Kaizemi.
In their second round encounter in Rehoboth, Suburbs seemed set for victory but a try by flanker Huscit Visagie off the last move of the match saw Rehoboth snatching a 30-26 victory.
Rehoboth coach Eden Meyer said his team was highly motivated and looking forward to the match.
"Our preparations have gone smoothly and everything is running on track. We have a full squad of players, even Fabian Routh has returned from a hamstring injury, and all the players are looking forward to the match," he said.
"The players know it means nothing to reach the final if you don't win, and we are determined to succeed on Saturday. This one will be for our fans and the Rehoboth community," he added.
Meyer said the match would be a close call but he expected Rehoboth to win.
"It's a 50-50 game. Suburbs are a good side and both backlines have the ability to change the outcome, but I think we will have the edge with our experience amongst the forwards."
Rehoboth have a strong pack with experienced players like Milando Titus, Huscit Visagie, Yoshiro Klaazen, Gert de Waal and Johan Wohler who returned after a spell with Mariental earlier in the season.
Amongst the backs, they have exciting game breakers like Desmond Snyders, Attie du Plessis, Chase Diergaardt and Fabian Routh.
Rehoboth will have three teams in action at tomorrow's finals with Reho Falcon playing Wanderers in the Premier League Plate final, while Rehoboth II will play Walvis Bay II in the First league Shield final, and as such they can expect strong support.
"With three teams from Rehoboth in the finals, our whole community will travel to Windhoek and we hope to pack the grandstand in our traditional red and black colours," Meyer said.
Suburbs coach Roger Thompson said they were ready and looking forward to the match.
"Our preparations have gone well and the spirit is high. We don't have any injuries and everyone is ready for the match," he said.
After a slow start to the season, Suburbs finished strongly and gave a great performance when they beat United 34-5 three weeks ago to book their place in the final.
Some of their stand out players this season include Munee Tjiueza and Harold Kasera amongst the forwards and Shaun Kaizemi, Johan Tromp and Justin Nel amongst the backs.
Thompson said they expected a tough match but were confident of victory.
"Rehoboth are a very difficult team to play against - they play a high risk type of rugby and always pose the threat of scoring. This will also be their fifth final, so they will be used to the pressure," he said.
"But if we stick to our structures and defend well we can win the game. We will also rely on our senior players to show the way and rise to the occasion," he added.