SCONE Thoroughbreds have to match the Singleton Greyhounds up front if they are to win today’s Group 21 minor semi-final at Scone Park.
Thoroughbred captain-coach Daniel Ritter knows that and so does his young pack.
The home side possesses a potent array of attacking backs – fullback Tim Smith, centres Joel Harrison and Byron Warren and winger Josh Adams are all try scorers and match-winners.
“Singleton has a big pack,” Ritter said.
“We need to match them in the middle.
‘That’ll determine what happens out wide.
“We need to set a platform in there so Tim, Joel, Byron and Josh can move out wide.
“They can all score a try – they’re all tryscorers, all match-winners.
“But if we don’t set the platform for them, we won’t win,” he said.
It’s a simple philosophy with a few twists.
The Thoroughbreds also have matchwinners in close, namely Ritter himself and hooker John Johnson.
“Johnno will be one person they will have to watch out of dummy half,” Ritter said.
“One of the good things about Johnno is his ability to play that ad lib football – he can catch them off guard.”
Ritter and his fellow teammates have to be on guard too to make sure they make the most of Johnson’s darting runs.
The other strength in the Scone game plan is the improving relationship between halves Josh Bell and Brett Firman.
Firman injured his ankle last week but is named to play although Under 18 halfback Jake Watts is also on the bench and will warm up with the team in case Firman is unable to play.
“We had a bit of a lull a few games back,” Ritter said of a run of defeats.
“But the last few games Josh and Brett have really taken control of the team and steered us around.”
The return of second-rower James Eveleigh from injury last week is a bonus for the Thoroughbred forwards.
Cody McCarthy and Will Carrigan have also been out for three or four weeks but are also right to return off the bench and will also stiffen the forwards.
SCONE: 1 Tim Smith, 2 Justin Hall, 3 Joel Harrison, 4 Byron Warren, 5 Josh Adams, 6 Josh Bell, 7 Brett Firman, 8 James Barker, 9 John Johnson, 10 Tom Hagan, 11 James Eveleigh, 12 Dane Thorogood, 13 Daniel Ritter (c/c), 14 Jarred Wicks, 15 Ben Manning, 16 Joel Marston, 17 Cody McCarthy, 18 Will Carrigan, 19 Jake Watts.
SINGLETON: 1 Scott Griffith, 2 Damien James, 3 Luke Gardner, 4 Noel Tupou, 5 Nathan McLoughlin, 6 Jake Smith, 7 Kerrod Holland, 8 Michel Milgate, 9 Thomas Robertson, 10 Michael Hampson, 11 Chris Martin, 12 Craig Edwards, 13 Russell Richards (c/c), 14 Dale Watson, 15 John Boyle, 16 Jason Brand, 17 Luke Holz.