THE Albury Wodonga Steamers and Griffith will face a do-or-die battle to secure a second chance in Southern Inland Rugby on Saturday.
The pair set up the must-win clash with equally dominant away wins at Wagga on the weekend — the blue and golds again coming from behind to win 40-17 against Ag College while the Blacks demolished CSU with a dominant first half in a Blair and Walsh Cup double header at Beres Ellwood Oval.
Ag College led 12-0 early before tries to Blake Le Cornu and Dan Hogg put the reigning premiers in front by two points at half-time.
But Aggies again hit the front early in the second half before the Steamers put their foot down.
Coach Mick Raynes said the Steamers need to play to their strengths.
“We just over-complicated our play in the early part of that game,” he said.
“The forwards were pushing passes that weren’t on but when we went back to basics, played to our strengths we controlled the game and gave our backs the space to run.
“We are at our best when we hold onto the ball — move the ball quickly and precisely close to the ruck to create some midfield congestion and then spin it wide.”
Raynes said the performance was a carbon copy of the Steamers’ year.
“Cut and paste the 80 minutes from 12 of the 14 games to date,” he said.
“In some ways it also reflected our training this week that was poor on Tuesday and finished off with a great session Thursday.”
Raynes said halfback Hugh Erwin, two-try hero Dan Hogg and Blake Le Cornu who kicked five out of six in blustery conditions were the Steamers’ best.
The blue and golds now travel to Griffith to take on a home side that knows a win will put them into second spot.
It will also set up a mouthwatering matchup with the Steamers fly-half Richard Manion likely to face Fijian international Dan Rawaqa.
“If we play our simple game well, hold onto the ball, we will do well,” Raynes said.
“We have been looking at this since the Leeton loss and the only hiccup has been Waratahs — we know the importance of having the second chance.
“But up there at Griffith they are going to be really tough — they have plenty to play for too.
“They are a great broken field rugby side, playing Campese rugby and the only way to limit that is to hold onto the ball, deny them the chance to throw it around.
“We just need to be better.”