A BRUISED and battered Steamers head to Wagga today knowing “they can’t leave anything in the tank”.
The defending premiers take on CSU in the knockout semi-final at Connolly Park with the honours between the long time rivals divided in the home and away season.
There is also the shadow of last year’s major semi where the Reddies late charge came up five points short only to lose the following week and miss out on a crack at the Steamers in the grand final.
Coach Mick Raynes said if they can control the tempo of the game the Steamers will live to fight another week.
“We want to manage the pace of the game and not get dragged into playing the frantic rugby that CSU prefer,” he said.
“If we can control the tempo then it means we are focused — if we are concentrating on that we are already committed to the 80 minutes, already looking to execute the plan.”
Raynes was also at pains to distance the Steamers from their losing performance last week against a rampaging Griffith.
“It’s a horror road trip against quality opposition and we were pretty much undermanned,” he said.
“We had players who came off spurting blood and yet still led with 15 minutes to go.
“But CSU is a new game.
“We can’t go there and expect that what we did against Griffith will get us over the line — if we do, we’ll lose.”
Raynes admitted that they had some selection headaches.
“There were some 50-50 calls this week,” he said.
“It was hugely tough and players like Brandon Lewsey, who had a cracking game against Griffith, was stiff to miss out.
“But Tom Wilmore is back into fullback after missing last week and he is a nice option to have back there, someone who we can move into halfback if we need to change things up.
“There has been talk they’ll target Richard Manion at fly half but that is Reddies way — they tend to focus on the individual.”
Raynes said the team almost expected to be playing knockout finals football after the shock loss to Leeton in the middle of the season.
“We are primed for this one knowing that we were always likely to finish in the bottom half of the top four,” he said.
“It will be the same for Reddies they will be just as desperate.”