Pressure’s a funny thing, in big games it’s a phenomenon that often completely cancels out form, momentum, reputation and even, at times, ability in general.
Simply, some teams flourish under it and others wilt.
In Saturday’s GrainCorp Cup Northern Division grand final, Molong is hoping the undefeated, minor premiership-winning Narromine Gorillas outfit does the latter.
It certainly won’t be the Magpies getting impacted by that pressure, Molong gun Zac White says, because none of it is on his side.
“Narromine are heavy, heavy favourites, we know that. They’re unbeaten for a reason and realistically it’s probably their premiership to lose, but that does put all the pressure on them,” White said.
”I don’t think there’s any on us at all. Anything can happen in grand finals and we’re confident if we get it right Narromine are beatable, but let’s be real, no one’s expecting us to win this game.
“That’s a good thing for us, it means we just go out and work our guts out but play with freedom as well.
“We know we’ll need a bit of luck too, but hopefully the result comes up in our favour.”
It’s Molong’s fourth grand final appearance in the last five seasons, the Magpies’ last title win came in 2014, while Narromine has dominated this year after dropping back from the top-tier Blowes Clothing Cup.
Considering the substantial experience and size advantage the Gorillas have, White said it’s simply about playing smart.
Trangie had the same size advantage in the elimination semi-final, Geurie did too in the preliminary final, but the Magpies still came up trumps by controlling possession and taking penalty goals whenever they were on offer – particularly early in games.
The Magpies won those games 26-8 and 25-14, respectively.
“People have called it boring rugby, The Wellington Times hammered us after we beat Geurie but at the end of the day it’s won us games, that’s what we’re trying to do at this time of year and those comments actually serves as a little bit of motivation for the boys,” White said.
”Last time we played Narromine we enjoyed a lot of ball inside their half, but we didn’t turn it into points because we weren’t smart. Will has been kicking beautifully, so of course we’ll take any points we can get in a grand final.
“Narromine move the ball really, really well. Actually, they’re a little bit like (Orange) Emus in that way, using their forwards to shift the ball.
“We weren’t ready for that last time, which is the only time we’ve played them. We prepared for a battle up front, but now we know they’re willing to attack wide and often and so we’ll be far better prepared this time around.”
Already against the odds, the Magpies have been forced to make some changes thanks to injuries.
White moves into five-eighth and Oldham pushes into halfback as a result of an injury to the side’s regular scrum-half Mitch Brown.
“Our structure did rely pretty heavily on the half and five-eighth so we’ve had to mix that up a bit,” White said.
“It’ll be a challenge for all of us but I’m sure we’ll do the job. More than anything we’re really looking forward to the day.
“Narromine always puts on a good day and the weather’s supposed to be great. We’re really excited for it, we can’t wait.”
Saturday’s decider kicks off at 3.15pm at Narromine’s Cale Oval.