Coach expects 'knock 'em down, drag 'em out' finals clash
RUGBY LEAGUE: They're the fiercest of rivals who featured in two of Rockhampton Rugby League's most dramatic grand finals in the past two years.
And there's sure to be plenty of passion on show again when Rockhampton Brothers and Norths Chargers face off tomorrow in the opening round of the finals.
The winner advances to the major semi to take on minor premiers Yeppoon; the loser meets the victor from today's elimination final between Biloela and Emu Park.
Brothers' coach Scott Munns, who is in his first year as A-grade coach, said his troops were excited and "everyone had a spring in their step”.
He said the club as a whole had done well, with its four senior teams (A-grade men and women, reserve grade and under-20) all finishing in the top three.
Munns is expecting a "knock 'em down, drag 'em out” game against Norths and promises there will be plenty of feeling in it.
Brothers will be close to full strength, missing only centre Ayden Cooper, who still has two weeks of a suspension left to serve.
"We're confident in our ability and know that if we do the little things right that will hold us in good stead for the big moments of the game,” Munns said.
"I'll be looking for our front rowers Riley Reid and Lachlan Hall to lay a platform to allow the likes of Mark Johnstone, Lachlan Webley and Brenton Pinkerton to do their stuff out wide.
"Norths have a good kicking game and if we can nullify that it will go a long way towards us getting the result we're looking for.
"If we complete our sets, get to our kick and do all the little things that we've been working on the rest will hopefully take care of itself.”
Munns said both Brothers and Norths were in a different position this season.
"The last two years we've been the dominant sides but this year it's Yeppoon who are on top and have set the benchmark.
"Instead of being the hunted, we're the chasers now.
"There's a bit of a different feel but we're still after the same thing.”
Norths' coach Kane Hardy believes his side is running into form at the right time but he knows all too well that anything can happen come finals time.
"The boys are keen and everyone's ready to go,” he said.
"This is a very different team to what we've had for the last two years.
"It's a young side and it's great to see the young fellas bouncing around, excited for semi-finals, and it's been a breath of fresh air for me as well.”
Hardy said despite losing 30-14 to Brothers in Round 15 in mid-July, his side had drawn plenty of confidence from the performance.
"We've improved in every game since then so that turned our season around a little bit.
"We've slowly been getting better each week so our timing's right but we know we've got to be on our game for the full 80 minutes to compete with Brothers.
"We're confident in our own group with what we're doing.
"We need to keep doing the little things right, complete our sets and stay in the grind.”
Hardy said Norths needed to contain Brothers' attack, in particular the impact of five-eighth Mark Johnstone.
He knows his co-captain and hooker Darcy Davey and halfback Dean Allen will have a big role to play tomorrow.
"Every time Darcy's in our team we seem to grow another leg. He's a massive asset and leads the way with his enthusiasm and toughness,” Hardy said.
"Dean's one of our best every week. Everyone knows what he's capable of and we can always rely on him for a big game.”
- 1.30pm Saturday: A-grade women elimination final, Emu Park v Norths, Browne Park
- 6pm Saturday: A-grade men elimination final, Biloela v Emu Park, Browne Park
- 3pm Sunday: A-grade women qualifying final, Tannum v Rockhampton Brothers, Dennis Park, Tannum
- 3pm Sunday: A-grade men qualifying final, Rockhampton Brothers v Norths, Browne Park