Wagga Ag College and their Tumut, Adelong and Coolac playing contingent will play for a spot in the Southern Inland Rugby Union women’s 10 grand final on Saturday when playing CSU Reddies at Conolly Park.
The second place Aggies will need to turn around a big 49-5 round six loss to CSU though, and coach Elliot Barrett said his side was caught off guard when they met in Tumut two weekends ago.
“In our last meeting with Reddies, I think the occasion of a top of the table clash got the better of us,” Barrett said.
“Although this weekend is finals football, we are just looking to approach it as any other game.”
Barrett believed losing to Reddies could prove to be a blessing in disguise, allowing the Wagga side to work on areas where they were lacking against CSU.
“We have the added beauty of being able to reflect on our previous matchup, where we were found wanting in areas that we had been particularly strong at in other games, namely maintaining possession and winning the collision on both sides of the ball. So, we will look to correct that,” Barrett said.
The Wagga coach believed his team deserved to be where they were after a big season of rugby that saw them finish second at the end of the regular season, only losing one game.
“Our girls have made a lot of sacrifices to make their season come together and they are very deserving to be in the position they are in. As such, they are very keen to make the most of the opportunity,” Barrett said.
A bigger and physical Aggies line-up will need to find a way to counteract the likes of Tess Staines and Ellen McIntyre, two speedsters who tore them to pieces two weeks ago.
“Both Staines and McIntyre are outstanding footballers, as are a number of players in their team, who if given an opportunity will make the most of it,” Barrett said.
“With that, our focus is to starve them of the football and play our brand, rather than being bullied into playing a game dictated by them.”
Tumut footballer Monique Toppin also believed Aggies needed to win the breakdown if they were to stop Reddies utilising their quick outside backs.
“It’s a very big game this week,” Toppin said. “The key things that we took out of playing them last time was that we needed to be quicker to secure at the breakdown and shut down their play earlier, so that it doesn’t get out wide to their wingers as they are very quick once they get some space.”
The Aggies and Reddies aren’t the only women’s side in action on Saturday either, with City and Waratahs playing off in an elimination final on the same day.
The winner of that match will play the loser of Aggies and Reddies the following week.
Bulls look to finish season strongly
Finals rugby might be off the table for the Tumut Bulls and CSU Reddies, but that doesn’t mean their seasons are over, with plenty of pride on the line when they meet at Conolly Park on Saturday.
With two rounds left, the loser is most likely going to finish with the dreaded wooden spoon; motivation enough for a win.
Bulls coach Jonathan Hulks doesn’t want his side to lose focus either, especially with next season squarely in the club’s focus.
“Just because there are only two games left for the season, we shouldn’t get complacent,” Hulks said.
“We need to try and have a bit of fun, play some rugby and keep working on the key areas for next year.”
Hulks said focusing on areas of their game that fell apart again Reddies would be important.
“We are just really looking towards fixing any mistakes we did have against Reddies with the anticipation of keeping this core group together for next year,” Hulks said.
Although wanting to win on Saturday, avoiding the wooden spoon wasn’t a concern for Hulks.
“It’s not our focus, if we go in thinking about it, then its going to be an issue, so I’m trying to stay away from it and keeping them focused on what they need to do, regardless of what the result might end up being,” Hulks said.
Bulls assistant coach Mitch Ivill agreed with Hulks and said there was no point putting pressure on his playing group.
“Personally, I’ll be trying not to put too much pressure on the boys for a win as I understand with this changed season, it’s been a bit all over the shop,” Ivill said.
“All I’m asking is that the boys give their 100% and we give it a good crack.”
Ivill said his side wanted to win though and expected a good contest due to the rivalry of Reddies and the Aggies contingent of Tumut’s squad.
“As far as this week’s match, I think as with every other week the boys are keen to snag a win,” Ivill said.
“I know the Aggies boys have a pretty big rivalry with the Reddies, so they’ll be chomping at the bit for a win at their home ground in front of their faithful.”