Steamers face tough run into the finals

Ash Lefevre will be a dominant force for the Steamers. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

Ash Lefevre will be a dominant force for the Steamers. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

THE Albury Wodonga Steamers will face three of their last five games away as it seeks to go back-to-back in the Southern Districts rugby competition.

Last year’s premiers are equal second with CSU following the competition’s split into the first and second divisions and face their immediate rival for that top-two spot this weekend in Wagga.

The Steamers then face premiership favourites Waratahs at home followed by top-six surprise packet Tumut, again at Murrayfield.

The last two games are against Wagga Ag College at the Beres Ellwood Oval and the long road trip to Griffith.

Coach Mick Raynes said the only focus was on CSU.

The Reddies won convincingly then they met at Murrayfield earlier this year.

“The three winners this weekend get a headstart on the competition,” he said.

“There are six teams and six potential finalists, so early points are key.

“Waratahs are the only side that are probably locked in, but all the others have the ability to be in the top four on their day.

“But we are happy with the draw, playing the other three in the top four first up — we need that tough rugby to bring out our best.”

Raynes said the big wet had levelled the playing field.

“We’ve been playing wet weather rugby since the start of the season,” he said.

“It’s made handling and possession rugby difficult and limited the effectiveness of the better backlines.

“It will come down to which sides can adapt better when it eventually dries out.”

Raynes said the trip to Griffith would be a real test.

“It’s an eternity away at the moment, but it will be a big game if we are both still in contention,” he said.

“They are tough at any time and especially up there, while their fullback (Former Fijian national player) Dan Rawaqa wasn’t in their squad when they came to Murrayfield.”