Final bound to set backlines free

SCONE Thoroughbreds face a different kind of opponent in the Denman Devils when they match up in tomorrow’s A Plus Contracting Group 21 Preliminary Final at Scone Park than the Greta Branxton Colts they played in last Sunday’s major semi.

Ben Hagan rumbling it up for Greater Northern. He'll be leading the way for Denman in tomorrow's G21 final at Scone.

Ben Hagan rumbling it up for Greater Northern. He'll be leading the way for Denman in tomorrow's G21 final at Scone.

The Colts and Thoroughbred forward packs went at it on a shifty surface last week, grinding out a major semi marathon.

After two periods of extra time it was fitting that big Colt prop Ben Murray barged over for the winning “golden point” try.

With conditions far better and Scone Park’s surface more conducive to free flowing backline movements, both sides will throw it around, Scone, because it possesses some outstanding representative backs such as Tim Smith, Josh Adams, Joel Harrison and Justin Apthorpe and Denman, because, well, that’s how they play.

“Scone outgun us just about everywhere,” said club stalwart Neil Barry.

“But we have Blake (Dureau) and centre Andrew Nicholls. Blake had the ball on a string in the minor semi win over Muswellbrook at Muswellbrook. And Andrew Nicholls might be out of condition and have a big belly but they just can’t tackle him. Almost impossible to stop close to the line.”

And Denman are renowned for their ability to conjure something from nothing.

The return of Garry McKeon will help in that department too.

He’s hardly trained all year because of a nerve problem in his neck but Neil Barry reckons he could be a match winner as well in the same way as he was in last year’s marvellous grand final win over Greta at Denman Oval.

Barry is certain Scone will come down the middle..

“We know they will come down there, just means our boys don’t have as far to chase,” he said.

However, Denman shouldn’t be too sure that’s where the Thoroughbreds will aim.

Sure they will want to set a platform with some big bursts from the likes of James Barker, Tom Hagan and Wes Suckley.

“We played a bit dumb at times,” Daniel Ritter admitted this week.

“And a few of the times we did get a roll on we copped a few bad 50/50 decisions, that stopped us. All credit to Greta. Their big pack did well in what was a good game of footie.

“But Denman are far different proposition for us.

“In Ben Hagan they have one of the best players Group 21 has seen in the last 10 to 15 years. “

He said his side will be aiming to play wider as well and utilise the likes of Tim Smith, Josh Adams, Joel Harrison out wide.

He’s hoping to ensure Harrison, who scored two tries last Sunday, is joined on the scoresheet by the likes of Smith, Adams and Co after he and his forwards provide a platform for them to launch.

And watch out for Matt Finlayson on the edge of the ruck as well.