Group 19 rugby league: Glen Innes teams to play preliminary finals

RIVALRY: Glen Innes and Inverell will go head-to-head this Sunday for a spot in the grand final.
RIVALRY: Glen Innes and Inverell will go head-to-head this Sunday for a spot in the grand final.

One Glen Innes Magpies senior league team has already secured a Group 19 grand final berth but two more will line up this Sunday with the aim of reaching the big dance. 

The league tag team qualified through a major semi-final triumph on Sunday while the A grade team and the under 18s are set to play preliminary finals with the hope of securing their spot. 

The A grade team progressed to this weekend’s preliminary final round with a dominant 32-6 win in the minor semi-final against the Moree Boars on August 12.

With a week off, Magpies captain-coach Nick Say said his team are raring to go. 

“The weekend off freshened them up a bit and got them excited again so it is nice,” he said. 

“We had a good turnout last night [Tuesday at training] which is good. 

“I think everyone is keen ready to rip in.”

The Magpies have beaten and drawn with Inverell this season but Say believes they can’t look at past results heading into a must-win semi-final. 

“As we said at the start of the finals, you don't want to live on past results or whatnot so we will just take it as it comes,” he said. 

“The only two games all year when it has been wet and we have played Inverell both times so we will just have to learn from our mistakes from the last time we played them and try and fix up our errors and try to use the ball a bit more conservative.”

The Magpies took confidence from the win over the Boars with a superb defensive effort. 

Say’s side is confident heading into the clash against the Hawks but warned them there is still plenty of work to do. 

“You have got to go in with the attitude that you want to win so you have got to be confident,” he said. 

“You don't want to be too overconfident otherwise you could get too complacent about yourself.”

“We proved against the Boars that our side can do anything really when we are there.

“It is just about getting the right mentality for the game really. 

“Everyone has had that finals experience now, they played the other game so they all know what it is like.”

Glen Innes will take a full team into this Sunday’s clash. 

“I think we have had a few injuries here and there but then we have had a week off so it gives those boys a bit of time to freshen up and repair themselves,” Say said. 

Say is hoping the town can make their way to the neighbouring town to cheer on his side and the under 18s. 

“We just hope we can get a good crowd over there to support both grades,” he said. 

“I know it is probably going to be wet and cold but it is not that far so hopefully we can get a few over there to support both grades and get through to the grand final with the girls. That would be a massive achievement for the club if that did happen.”

In the under 18s, Glen Innes will play minor premiers Moree Boomerangs who were beaten by Tingha 22-20 in Sunday’s major semi-final. With wet weather predicted for the weekend, the Magpies juniors have come up with a game plan and coach Gavin Peterson is hoping they can stick to it and take the win. 

“Our last few weeks we have been concentrating on keeping the game pretty simple and not forcing passes and stuff like that,” he said. 

“That is wet weather football, playing smart football and trying to maintain possession. 

“That is what we have been working on in the last month so if it is wet I don't think it will worry us too much. It won't change much of what we are doing and what we have been working on.”

In a bonus for the Glen Innes side, it is the first time they have entered a game with a full-strength team. 

“We have always had a couple of key injuries throughout the year and also some of the boys carrying niggling injuries but I think this will be the first game since the start of the season we have been at full-strength and fully fit,” Peterson said. 

“The Boars game was pretty physical and having that week off was a good opportunity to get over those bumps and bruises.

“Everyone is fit and firing and ready to go.”

Peterson expects the game to be play tight and in the middle of the field. 

“We have got a pretty big forward pack and so do they so I think whoever wins that arm wrestle in the middle, particularly if it is wet, will go a long way to winning so it is a big challenge for our forward pack to set themselves a goal to dominate the middle of the field,” he said.