Weird mystical forces have aligned all the grade teams in 6th spot on their respective tables. All the teams are threatened by the 7th position team winning tomorrow. Destiny is in the players hands. It is knock out football from now on. Either win, rely on other results or boots off.
“The whole club knows it is a massive weekend,” said MMMs half back Tim Donlan. “We had the whole playing group together for a talk on Tuesday. Everyone is motivated to get through to the finals. This is what we do all of the hard work for.
“We have trained well this week,” he continued about first grade. “It’s all been about clarity. Where we should be and what we should do in different parts of the field under different scenarios.
“We wanted to become the best defensive team and when we had the three games in 8 days, it worked really. Our defence fell apart a bit against the Rats but, taking nothing away from them, they were awesome on the day and any team would have found them hard to beat.
“We got back on track in all grades against Gordon. We now want to push for the finals and we know we are capable of getting to the Grand Finals.
The MMMs are putting out a heavy pack including a barnstorming backrow: Harry Bergelin at 7, Hayden Stringer, blind side and Junior Palau at 8.
“Yeah, we want to take Norths on upfront. It is great for my position to be behind a pack going forward. We need show aggression against Norths.”
Tim was injured in Round 10 against Easts. “I damaged my ankle and thought I was out for 8 to 10 weeks. I am so happy that I managed to get back after six weeks. It was hard work and credit to Ali (Alison Donlan, club physio).”
Tim played his school boy rugby at St Ignatius including a 5 test stint in the Australian School Boys team. He travelled to Samoa and New Zealand, with the team losing to the kiwis on the bell. Tim was awarded the Bronze Boot for being the most constructive player.
He then moved onto Grade Rugby at the Rats playing colts and then 1st grade. He was injured in 2013 and moved to Randwick where he had a frustrating season. He then came and joined the MMMs in 2015, securing a 1st grade spot before Matt Lucas’ return.
He is a competitive half back, quick thinking and with good pace and pass. No doubt his objective is to be in the Grand Final 2016!
This is the last home game of the regular season and so let’s get a big crowd behind the Marlins as they fight to stay in contention for a finals birth. Also be there to support the Girls U14 7s team playing before the 1st grade game.
“We were disappointed with our performance last week,” said first grade assistant coach, Dan Brown. “We want to make it up the supporters and show what we can do.”
Lying 6th on the table, one point below the Rats, one point above Eastwood and two points above Easts, the Marlins need to win the last two games to be assured of a top six finish including a tough gig away against 3rd placed Norths next weekend.
The games that are important for the Marlins this weekend are: Eastwood vs Randwick and the Rats vs Easts. Next week: Easts vs Souths and Randwick vs the Rats.
There is no doubt that the Rats have a hard run home but based on last week’s strong win over the Marlins, they are looking good.
It is a bit gutting to say this the Rats really dominated last weekend and put on a great attacking display winning 41-17 (6 tries to 2) in front of large crowd at Rat Park. They ran everything back at the Marlins with gusto and made some critical line breaks. It seemed that every time the Marlins worked their way into the Rats 22, an error would, under strong defensive pressure from the Rats, send us back up the wrong end.
“At 7 all we looked to be in a good position but the Rats took two chances off our mistakes and scored length of field tries,” said Dan. “Suddenly the game is 17-7 and the momentum has swung against us. They are a good team. There was nothing major that we did wrong but we know we can play better than that.”
Having significantly improved our defence is recent weeks, somehow it unravelled in broken play.
“This week we are putting out a heavier pack,” continued Dan. Cecil Hilterbrand in at hooker, Kotone Ale in at 7 and Adrian Hall back from injury in the 2nd row. It is good to get players back at this critical stage of the season.
“We’ve been focused on us and getting things right. It’s little things that we are working on,” explained Dan. “If we get it right, we will play well and win. But we don’t underestimate anyone in the comp. Look at Wests beating Uni twice. I don’t remember such a tight comp, with any team on the day able to win.”
Final call for the Masquerade Ball and Presentation night – tickets here
With only 10 points separating the top 8 teams both the Marlins and the Rats need a win to stay in contention for a top 6 finals finish.
It is unusual for it to be so tight and to see last year’s Grand Final winners, Eastwood lying 8th. The Woodies should dispose of Penrith but there are some huge games including Uni vs Easts and Souths vs Randwick (top of the table clash).
After four wins from four, the MMMs are on the up but the Rats will also take confidence from a 41 all draw with Uni last weekend.
“They have good backs that can attack from anywhere and so we must shut down everything they throw at us,” said MMMs 5/8th Sam Lane. The Rats came back to win in the same fixture last year when the MMMs were over 20 points ahead.
Sam will be up against Rodney Iona, an ex Brumbies player, with Hamish Angus, captain and playmaker, out through injury. Former Brumbies player, Julian Huxley, will also be on the Rats bench.
The MMMs have only let three tries in over the last four games with BIG D improving dramatically. Holding out Souths for a 16-15 (no tries to Souths) was a monumental example.
“We are really proud of our defence. We know that we can all tackle well across team individually but we probably didn’t have our structures right,” explained Sam. “Over the last month or so we have gone back to basics. Who should be where, when? And how we work together.
“Basically out attack has been pretty good and we have shown that we can score from anywhere.”
James Graham has been playing open side for the last few games whilst Kotoni Ale has been easing back in after his year out with injury. Kotoni will be a fresh reserve. James “Cecil” Hilterbrand will also be a fresh reserve after returning from a successful trip with the US Eagles. He will supplement a fearsome front row of Hayden Stringer, Vance Elliot and Mitch Lewis.
Cecil was in the run on Eagles team with Greg Peterson that narrowly lost to Italy 20-24. He also made the run on team against Russia winning 25-0 (Greg was injured and did not play).
Other news is that Shuan Treweek, fresh from a stint playing in Scotland, will come in at no 12.
So we are getting the strength and depth back at this important time of the season.
Penrith no pushovers
“It certainly wasn’t a training run,” said Sam Lane. “They have some big players and speedy backs.
“Their defence was difficult to read with some players rushing up unexpectedly,” he continued. “It makes it tricky when you are playing against such an unstructured approach.
However, the MMMs went on for a big 65-0 win. “We scored some well worked tries.”
Reserve back Shaun Treweek got a hat trick and hooker, Vance Elliot, two meat pies!