Win or go home.
That’s the scenario facing the Mudgee Wombats second grade side ahead of Saturday’s New Holland Agriculture Cup preliminary finals match against Narromine at Northparkes Oval, with the winner set to play Blayney in the grand final.
A meeting with the Gorillas might be coming a week earlier than some expected as Narromine finished the season as minor premiers before being knocked out by the Rams in the first round of the finals.
Even though they fell in the first round, Batties’ skipper Steve Smeed knows the challenge that Narromine presents but is mostly worried about what his blokes do on the park.
“The team that plays for each other this weekend, as a collective group of 23 players will be the team that comes out on top,” Smeed said.
“It’s about who does the one percenters right and who comes out hungrier on the day too.”
Another focal point for Smeed’s side is the way it starts game as the whole club has had an issue firing out of the blocks in 2018.
A shaky start almost cost seconds against Rhinos in the first weekend of the finals as it took half an hour for the red, white and blues to score their first try and at half time, they trialled 10-5 to a side they were widely expected to defeat.
Smeed knows if a win over Narromine is to happen on Saturday, his side needs to be fast out of the blocks.
“It’s something we’ve been trying to work on all year. It’s been first and second grade this year,”
“It takes about 15 minutes before we realise the game is actually on and before we pick the pace up.
“It’s an area the whole team needs to work on so as soon as the whistle blows we’re straight into it.”
Mudgee will look for leadership and direction from five-eighth Brian O’Reilly who found his feet against Dubbo Rhinos, laying in his side’s first try through a nifty kick to Connor Pascoe.
Pascoe, along with Tom Purcell, were shining lights on Saturday for the Wombats’ second grade side in the first round of the finals.
After losing their first two matches to Narromine by exactly 38 points, Smeed’s side nearly shocked the league in round 11 as they fell to the Gorillas 27-25 in the dying stages of the Jubilee Oval thriller.
That match, paired with three Narromine losses against Blayney, might have laid out a blueprint for the Wombats ahead of this weekend’s game.
Parkes will be the host venue for the clash as the second grade sides willow follow first grade to Northparkes Oval as CSU Bathurst clashes with the Boars in the main event at 3.15pm
Second grade kicks off at 1.40pm.