ALBURY Thunder coach Josh Cale is desperate to nail down the Group 9 rugby league minor premiership with a win over Gundagai at Greenfield Park today.
The reigning premier can put top spot out of Southcity’s reach by defeating the in-form Tigers.
Cale rates this match as the team’s biggest challenge of the season.
“If we win this game we finish on top and that’s a big plus,” Cale said.
“It’s definitely our biggest game of the year.
“With a few blokes out, it makes it that little bit harder, but the boys are really looking forward to the game.
“We have been blessed by having few injuries this year so, if you are without a couple of blokes (Willie Heta and Mark Walsham), that’s just the way it is.
“We know we need to turn up ready to play.”
Gundagai emerged as Albury’s biggest challenger by edging out Southcity last weekend with coach James Smart now setting his charges for another psychological boost on the eve of the finals.
Although Thunder won their round 1 battle 28-8 at Anzac Park, Cale said a lot had changed since then.
“I expect them to come out firing,” Cale said.
“They will try and get us out wide through Damian Willis and Smart is a clever player who will try and exploit us down the short sides with his kicking game.
“No matter where they are on the field, we will have to be careful — they are a dangerous side.”
Albury has been destroying rivals up the middle through Mitch Davis, Lou Goodwin, Andrew Cowhan and Cale.
The Tigers will be hoping that Phil Latu, Keiran Pearce, Chris Rose and Peter Magnone can limit the damage that group can do.
Smart admitted the home team’s forward pack was difficult to counter.
“They are good up the middle,” Smart said.
“There is no doubt about that.
“We know we are going to have to play well, but we’re in good form and looking forward to it.”
If Albury goes down to Gundagai today, it must defeat Southcity at Wagga next weekend to secure top spot before its final round bye.