There is no denying the importance of Saturday’s round 15 Southern Inland Rugby Union (SIRU) match between the Tumut Bulls and CSU Reddies at Beres Ellwood Oval.
A fifth placed Bulls have it all to play for when taking on a winless Reddies, and if results go their way and Albury go down to Waratahs in Wagga on the same day, the Red and Blacks could move into the top four with only three rounds remaining.
“It’s all in our hands now,” said Bulls coach, Ray Wells.
“I think we have done a lot of the hard work, it’s now up to the players to trust what we have been doing and put it into practice.”
Tumut are coming off a dominant 29-6 victory over the Steamers in round 14 of the competition and their New Zealand coach has been working on his side, making slight adjustment in a bid to have Tumut ready as they approach the pointy end of the season.
“We are introducing a couple of different things structure-wise, but they are not completely different from what we are doing now,” Wells said.
“It’s more just tidying up different areas of the game.”
The Bulls cannot be complacent heading into their game against the Students, and Wells hoped his side are switched on and ready for a tough contest.
“Once again, we have to approach every game like it’s a final, because it is, if we don’t win, we don’t make finals,” Wells said.
“It doesn’t matter if we are playing teams at the top of the table, or right at the bottom, they are all must win games right now.”
The Bulls have put a tough losing streak behind them, recording back-to-back wins and their coach was pleased to see notable improvement, especially with his side set to face Waratahs and City in their final two matches of the year.
“It seems like at the moment we are improving game after game and we are actually building towards that game against Waratahs and the hard one after that against City two weeks later,” Wells said.
“If we do beat Reddies and earn a bonus point on Saturday, it is likely they will still have to beat Waratahs or City to play finals, or at least gain bonus points in both games.
Wells was the first to admit that it was a tough ask, and while he said it was the end goal, he didn’t want his players to lose focus of why they play and love the sport.
“If we focus so much on the end result and not the process getting there, then we might start thinking the wrong way,” Wells said.
“Yes, we want to get there, but first of all, let’s get this game out the way and then we can prepare for those next games.
“At the end of the day, yes it’s cold and miserable and we want to make finals, but you still need to be able to have a bit of a laugh and fun, then when it’s time to switch on, we will switch on and worry about it then.”
Tumut are set to welcome back captain TJ Sala this week, and with the only injury cloud hanging over lock Tom Mouat, who limped from the field with an injured knee on Saturday, Wells said Tumut would basically take on Reddies full-strength.
“No, there is not really any concerns, it’s the normal bumps and bruises,” Wells said.
“Other than that, there isn’t much to report and now they just need to look after themselves before we get back out there on Saturday.”
It will be another big day of rugby in Wagga with Tumut sending all three grades to take on the Students.
The Bulls are a long-shot to make finals in second-grade and if they want to make a late charge, they need to account for a fifth place Reddies on Saturday.
Tumut didn’t play on Saturday and were forced to settle for a draw on paper after Albury were unable to field a side due to the Victorian Covid-19 lockdown and there is no doubt the travelling side will be ready and raring for a match.
The Tumut Bullettes are all but out of finals contention and will be playing for pride on Saturday when visiting Reddies.
Tumut drew with the Wagga side last time out and it is expected to be another close contest at Beres Ellwood Oval.
12.55pm: Women’s 10s