The Wellington Redbacks are now just one win away from the Graincorp Cup Northern Division grand final after getting past a powerful Coolah Kangaroos outfit on Saturday.
The Redbacks scored a 25-15 win at Bicentenntial Park and will now travel to Molong to play for a spot in the grand final against minor premiers and local rivals, Geurie.
“It was a fairly tough and tight game,” Wellington coach Greg ‘Snow’ Brien said of the clash with the Roos.
“Coolah came wanting the win and it was very tough so it was nice to come out with the win.”
Brien went as far to say the clash with the physical Roos pack was one of the most difficult his side had endured all season.
That’s the toughest scrum we’ve played all year, for sure.Redbacks coach Greg Brien on Coolah
“Defensively the effort was good,” Brien said of his side’s performance.
“We took our chances stole a lot of lineouts. Their scrum was really good and they moved us around and we lost some of our own scrums.
“That’s the toughest scrum we’ve played all year, for sure, but we stole a lot of ball at the lineout.
“They’d be frustrated because they had a lot of chances but we just stole a lot of ball.”
While the Coolah forwards were dominant at times, it was a pair of Wellington big men who were among the try-scorers.
Prop Kym Dorin and No. 8 Jacob Newman scored five-pointers for the Redbacks, as did centre Mitchell Brien.
Brad McCarroll chimed in with two conversions and two penalty goals.
The battle with the Coolah pack is good preparation for a clash with a Molong side which is also strong up front.
The Magpies stuck it to undefeated minor premiers Geurie for long periods of the major semi-final but the Goats finished the game the better and ran out 22-3 winners.
“We’re probably where we expected to be, venturing down to Molong,” Brien said.
“I don’t like to talk about other teams too much but I don’t think they’re as strong in the backs as they are in the forwards.
“We’ll try and play a bit of a back-orientated game and not get stuck in the forward rumble too much.”
One thing Brien knows he will get at Molong on Saturday is effort.
The coach has been impressed by his players stepping up a gear at finals time and now the Magpies are the only thing standing in the Redbacks’ way of a grand final spot.
“We’ve been training really well on Tuesdays and Thursdays with the ball in hand,” he said.
“The intensity has stepped up, which is good. It’s what you want at this time of the year.
“I’m very confident we can do the job.”
Brien’s troops were upbeat after the win on Saturday and the coach said that was just the latest sign of a club which has been working hard to create a fun, family feel for everyone involved.
The coach was hopeful a strong band of supporters would make the trip to Molong for the preliminary final, which kicks off at 3.15pm Dr Ross Memorial Recreation Ground on Saturday.