THIS weekend’s preliminary final clash between Armidale Blues and the Barbarians is set to be an exciting encounter with both sides battling to qualify for next week’s New England rugby union grand final.
The Blues struggled to finish against a red-hot St Albert’s side last Saturday in the major semi-final and went down 31 points to five while the Barbarians left it late against Robb College to secure the win and keep their finals hopes alive for another week.
Blues coach Luke Stephen said while the loss to Albies was disappointing, he knows his side a ready to take on the fast-finishing Barbarians.
"For us it is about not dwelling on what went wrong on Saturday but what we need to do right this Saturday if we want another chance at Albies,” he said.
"The weather conditions are going mean that we have to value possession.
"We cannot afford to to be playing the game in our own territory because the Barbarians are big, strong and skillfull.”
Both sides possess powerful forward packs which will play a key in gaining territory for their sides on a wet Bellevue Oval.
"We have to meet them up front,” Stephen said.
"We have to meet them in every collision no matter where, backs, forwards and it is going to take a complete squad effort of everyone to get the result if we hope to have our season continue.”
With the Blues tipped as the favourites in the match, Barbarians’ coach Tom Bower knows his side will have to settle the nerves which hampered their point scoring opportunities in last weekend’s game against Robb.
"The boys will be great for that second week of finals,” he said.
"The first week of finals there is a lot of excitement, nerves and some of the things we wanted to execute on the weekend against Robb didn't really come to fruition.
"However, we have had that week of experience now with finals and we are ready to get into this one.
"We are really excited for this weekend.”
Kick off is 3pm with lower grades and women’s sevens matches played prior.
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