WESTERN Zone wicketkeeper-batsman Jason Ryan believes the lessons learned from last season's NSW Country Championships final will serve the side well heading into Sunday's clash with Central Coast at Orange.
Illawarra defeated Western by seven wickets in February of this year to claim that title but the boys from the bush exorcised that demon as part of their unbeaten run at the recent southern pool carnival in Wagga Wagga.
Now all that is left to do is get over the line in the final, and standing in the way is a Central Coast side nobody expected to progress through the northern group.
The coastal side had a washout with close neighbours Newcastle in the first game of their round-robin carnival before beating Central Northern and North Coastal.
"I think most of us thought Newcastle would go through, and we had been doing a bit of homework on them, but to their credit Central Coast progressed and now we need to prepare well for them," Ryan said.
"We don't know much about them but we have guys out trying to get some information on them.
"Really though it will come down to us doing the little things right. Our top order need to get runs and our bowlers need to bowl a good, tight line and length.
"Their guys are obviously in good form so we will respect them but hopefully we learned a bit from last year about how to handle the occasion in a final."
Ryan believes it is unfair to compare the side from last season's final to the one that will take to Wade Park on Sunday, but admits he thinks the current group is a more in-form unit.
He also said the home ground advantage Wade Park provides will be a positive for Western Zone.
"I thought last year we had a really good side and I thought we'd win that final," Ryan said.
"This year is a bit different. We're still a good side but we have a lot of new faces in the squad and that comes down to picking players that were in form at the trials and in their club cricket.
"Having in-form players and being at home probably makes us slight favourites. Wade Park is a big ground and all of our guys have played their before.
"We know the angles, where we can turn twos into threes and how to defend the field so hopefully we can make the most of that on Sunday."