The Barbarians are preparing to make Alcatraz a fortress this weekend as New England Rugby enters the Elimination Finals.
The Barbarians are coming in after a disappointing loss last weekend to St Alberts College and will be looking for redemption when they meet Armidale Blues on Saturday.
“We have done that throughout the year, we get a little lead, and we think we are going to do it easy, and we let them back in.” said Brad Hague, Barbarians Coach.
“We’ve got to stay switched on for the whole 80 minutes and this weekend, Blues are our archrival, and always have been, and while we have beaten them three time this year, we can’t be complacent because you come to these big games, and anything can happen.”
“Hopefully we can pull it together and keep our lead.”
The home team is expecting a big crowd with the club’s first first-grade home semi in 5 years.
“We are hoping to get a full crowd.” Said Brad.
“No one likes coming to play us in Alcatraz and that’s the way we like it.”
With only two losses this season at their home ground, the Barbarians are eager to put on show despite a few injury rule-outs.
“We’ve had a few niggling injuries from previous games, but you get that this time of the year.” said Brad.
“We will lose our half back, Jacob Whitehill, from a head knock, lucky enough his brother, Liam Whitehill, will step back into his role so a little shuffle in the back line which won’t be too much of a hassle.”
And it’s a game they will be playing for their coach. A win secures another game for Brad Hague before retiring his coach’s cap, after 27 years of rugby, the last eight of those with the Baa Baas.
“Hopefully I can come out a winner.” Said Brad.
Meanwhile, the Barbets are also hoping for the home ground advantage when they play Glen Innes this weekend.
“After a tough loss on the weekend against Albies we’ve had to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and start prepping really well for Glen this weekend.” Said Will Green, Co-coach Barbets.
“Glen are bit of an unknown quantity; they have speed and good legs through the middle so we’re going to have to be on our best across the board.”
“If we take it easy on them, we are going to be in trouble.”
Getting on the front foot in the forwards and playing mistake free footy is what the coach will be looking for, led by example through their co-captains.
“Emily Dickson is our hooker, and she has been around the Barbets since 2019.” said Will.
“She is just a workhorse and often plays 40 minutes straight without a break and she is always in there when you need her to be and that’s what a good leader is all about.”
“And then you look at Skye Gorden-Briggs, she plays what’s in front of her, really inspires the girls to keep moving forward and it’s a good match we have at the moment.”
The Barbets are eager to deliver and take dominance at their home ground.
“We are ready to run out and show it’s our home.” Said Will.
“We have definitely had an up and down season, we’ve had to rebuild at the start of the year with only three girls from last year’s squad who came back so we’ve done really well to get where we are with some new players, and the sky is the limit this weekend as there is nothing to lose.”
NERU Preliminary Finals Saturday 2nd September
Alcatraz Rugby Park, Armidale
First Grade: Barbarians Vs Armidale Blues @ 3pm
Women’s Tens: Barbets Vs Glen Innes Elks @ 1:45pm
Second Grade: Tamworth Magpies Vs Glen Innes Elks @ 12:10pm
Third Grade: Tamworth Magpies Vs Tenterfield @10:45am
Good luck to all!
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