It’s the Final Countdown

This year’s Bengalla Group 21 Rugby League competition has been jam-packed with action and entertaining football, it has gone by so fast that we are now on the eve of the Finals Series. So, who wins from here?

From the opening rounds of the competition back in April, the competition has had its twists and turns, and now heading into the Finals which team will take home the shield.

Aberdeen Tigers

Last year’s Premiers the Tigers are the undeniable competition favorites having won the pre-season Scanlon Shield and the Minor Premiership for the first time since 1959. With local coaches Shane Hasslemann and Daniel Hoogerwerf back on deck the Tigers have been in good hands.

Ben “The Magician” Baker exploded onto the scene this year and has smashed a long-term record for highest point score for the Tigers. Featuring some big names with the likes of Liam Foran, Guy Thompson, Daniel Hoogerwerf, Ben Baker and competition favorite the unstoppable Josh Schmiedel, the questions have been posed; will they go all the way? And who will be their biggest threat? We will attempt to answer that question with a breakdown of the other teams left in the finals.

Tip – Injury free, this team will be near unstoppable.

Required – Discipline. There’s a few short fuses and there is a difference between looking macho for the camera and letting your footy do the talking.

Scone Thoroughbreds

Under the watchful eye of new coach Aaron Watts, the thoroughbreds have coasted along flying under the radar, pretty much like Aberdeen did in season 2017.

Having the usual top guns in the side with the likes of Daniel Ritter, Wes Suckley, Gary McKeon and Joel Harrison, Scone sailed into second place when everyone was talking a 90’s repeat of an Aberdeen v Muswellbrook back to back fight for the shield.

Before June 30, the boys from the horse capital acquired a few big-name signatures to bolster their side with the signing of former Denman Premiership winning prop Ben Hagan brother of club President Tom “The Butterfly” Hagan and Joe Adams, Hayden Topliss and Tim Watson.

With a side on paper like this I expected to see a closer result then when the last time the two sides met, but we all know, Grand Finals aren’t won in April through to July. Injuries pending, Scone seems to be enjoying the under-dog title.

Tip – Be careful of the sleeping giant! On paper this side is a dream for any coach

Required- The boys need to be spot on with their timing and execution.

Muswellbrook Rams

With the incoming coach Troy Hilder taking the reins from Bomber Jones and Steve Haylen, who steered the Rams to 2 consecutive home Grand Finals, no person was under more pressure in the Group.

With several retirements and players moving on Hilder’s recruitment was under the radar and he delivered. Josh Scrymgeour, Rumone Jackson and Bailey Wooden just to name a few have been delivering though one feels there is more in the tank with these boys.

2017 Player of the Year Dylan Thorne was named as co-captain with Adam Grech until another streak of misfortune saw Grech sidelined for the rest of 2018.

Bolstered by the return of Andrew Pritchard and Rohan Pottinger, the Rams have a talented side that have been hot and cold.

Tip – If they’re on they’re on. With their full squad and their timing down pat, look out!

Required – The old saying “Great Individuals don’t win games. Great teams win games.” Focus on “your role” and have faith in the bloke next to you.

Singleton Greyhounds

Taking on the role of Coach is a pressure job in any first-grade team, let alone Jye Bayley who is President of the club as well! The bloke must want to save money on haircuts.

With reserve grade missing the finals for the first time in 12 years, the club has put their faith in the youngest first grade side (on average) in first grade to take them through from 4th to premiers just like Aberdeen and Denman have done over the past few years.

Missing a lot of big name players from the years gone by the young dogs, or pups, of James Bradley, Morgan Amidy and Cody Argent have really stepped up for the club this year and are right at home in first grade.

It’s going to take a monster effort for the forwards in the final series to lay a platform for these young talents to do there thing. They possibly may fall short of the big one this year, but the experience will benefit them for a big 2019 season. They take on Muswellbrook knowing in their last encounter they were able to stay in the arm wrestle until the final minute and steal a win through a Luke Gardner try.

Tip – Youth, desire and dedication can be a lethal weapon if the forwards do their job.

Required – Jake Smith and Thomas Johnson to get the biggest game out of their forwards lives!