Group 19: Narwan host Armidale in long-anticipated local derby

STAGE IS SET: For the first time in 11 years, Narwan and Armidale meet in a Group 19 rugby league encounter on Saturday.
STAGE IS SET: For the first time in 11 years, Narwan and Armidale meet in a Group 19 rugby league encounter on Saturday.

It has been 11 years in the making but the battle for local glory comes to a head this Saturday when Narwan Eels face off against cross-town rivals Armidale Rams.

The stage is set for the hosts to return to Armidale turf for the first time since their return to Group 19 after their opening clash scheduled for Newling Oval was washed out. 

The clash is highly anticipated and Narwan coach Peter Moran said the club can’t wait to take to the field. 

"It is going to be exciting for not only the players but the community as well,” he said.

"We have been sitting out for 11 years now and we have been looking forward to this for a while.

"For myself it is going to be very exciting and I can't wait until Saturday.

"The talk around town, everywhere I go people have been talking about it.

"We can't wait.” 

The Eels’ first match back in the Group was a success with a tight two-point win over Tingha Tigers.

"It was a tough win, we went to Tingha and the boys were a little bit rusty because we didn't have any trial matches either so to go over there and get the two points of Tingha was really great for the club and our supporters that travelled too,” Moran said. 

For the Rams, the match on Saturday is a chance at redemption after they were thumped in the opening two rounds by the Moree Boomerangs and Glen Innes Magpies.

Their defensive line leaked points in their games but player-coach Steve Coleman believes his team are better prepared this week to muscle up and combat Narwan's speedsters. 

"What we need to work on a lot is our defence,” he said. 

"We have been working on it a lot in the last two weeks and hopefully we have been improving and it gets a little better than what we did against Glen Innes and Moree.

"Especially getting three in the tackles and working on the ground. 

"We have been working a lot in training on our fitness as well and hopefully it shows this Saturday.” 

The ladies league tag match will commence the local derby at 12pm followed by reserve grade.

The first grade match gets underway at 3pm.

In other Group 19 matches this weekend, Inverell meets Tingha on Saturday while on Sunday Moree Boomerangs confronts Warialda and Glen Innes encounters MacIntyre.

Inverell will be looking for their first win of the season after surfing a first-up 48-22 loss to Moree Boars.

Tingha will be searching for win No. 2 and looking to bounce back from their narrow loss to Narwan in the last round.

The Boomerangs-Warialda match is a top-of-the-table encounter. The Wombats had a bye before the Easter break, so they will be well rested. Prior to that, they had a 28-22 win over MacIntyre.

The Boomerangs will attempt to rebound from a last-start 44-22 pasting at the hands of MacIntyre.

MacIntyre, meanwhile, will be wary of a Glen Innes side that crushed Armidale 72-10 in round two.