Perform or perish

By James Polson (Armidale Express, 22/08/2008)
Finals fever hits sporting fields across Armidale this weekend.

The University of New England will be a hotbed of sporting action tomorrow when the Bellevue precinct plays host to both the APJ Law New England Rugby Union major semi-final and the Tamworth Australian Football League minor semi-final.

St Alberts and Armidale will do battle on the rugby turf while over the road the New England Nomads will face the Gunnedah Bulldogs.

On Sunday the same field plays host to Robb College and the Barbarians as each try to stay alive in the finals.

The winner of that match will face the loser of Armidale and Albies next weekend, while either the Blues or the students can book their place in September 6’s grand final with a win tomorrow.

Armidale’s side will be the same as the team that defeated the Barbarians at the weekend, while Albies coach Dan Dooner said his side would be close to full strength.

“Jack Meagher and Tom Cullen will be missing this week but Ed Hiscox and Henry Curtain will come in to replace them,” he said.

“Most of us were at the Armidale game last week so we’ve really been concentrating on defence.

“We’ll just play our normal game plan and play what’s in front of us.”

In the TAFL fixture the Nomads will be hoping to repeat the form they displayed in rounds two and 15 when they were too good for the Bulldogs.

It hasn’t been all one way traffic, however, with Gunnedah also notching up a win in May.

Nomads coach Brendan Meehan said it was a different ball game come finals time.

“It’s a different game of football, it’s do or die,” he said.

“I’ve told the boys they can’t hold anything back from now on and I’m sure Gunnedah will be thinking the same.

“We’ve let them come back a few times, we can be a bit slack on the defensive side and we can’t let that happen.”

Meehan said the Nomads should be close to full-strength.

“We’ve still got two to get back for next week, Nick Schultz and Josh Keogh,” he said.

“A couple of players are a bit niggly with injuries but hopefully they’ll be right.”

The winner of the Nomads/Bulldogs match will face the loser of the Inverell Saints and Tamworth Kangaroos match next week for a place in the grand final.

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