Rams and Illawarra in Andrew Johns Cup Finals Face-Off

Updated: April 12, 2018
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An undefeated Western Rams outfit will face their toughest competitors, the Illawarra South Coast Dragons in the inaugural Finals of the Andrew Johns Cup at Mudgee’s Glen Willow Stadium on Saturday.

Western Rams coach Kurt Hancock believes that despite their unbeaten season, the Rams will still have some work to do against Illawarra, who only lost by four points to the Rams in Round three.

“I don’t think they’ll be too much in it, there never is in finals at this level, they always have a funny way of evening themselves out,” said Hancock.

“We’re going to need our best 18 because Illawarra got pretty close to us in that third round.

“Although we didn’t have the side that we’ve got this weekend but I’m guessing they’ll have their full-strength side and I don’t think their number nine played against us and he’s a very good player.”

Hancock will be looking for back-to-back Junior Representative premierships after leading the Rams Under-16’s side to victory last year and believes his side needs to focus on the simple things.

“I said to the players – ‘don’t start putting these big expectations on yourself, all you’ve got to worry about is what were dong as a group and enjoying each other’s company as a group, on and off the footy field and the rest will look after itself’.”

The Rams boast the best attack and defence in the competition and have conceded only 52 points in their six matches leading into the final. Their toughest match to date was against Illawarra, where they conceded 26 points.

“We’re going to embrace the fact that we’re favourites because we’ve been the most consistent team in the comp and we get that favouritism because of how well we’ve gone; we won’t shy away from that and we’ll just really enjoy the day.”

Dragons coach Glen Buffolin believes that his team weren’t up to standard in the Semi-Finals and will need to make improvements before playing a skilful Rams outfit.

“We’re not playing real eyes up footy at the moment so we’ve just got to get back to doing the things that we do well, at different times we just get caught up in the moment a little bit,” Buffolin said.

“We froze a little bit in the Semi-Finals and sort of put ourselves under too much pressure, so this week we’re working on absorbing the pressure and how we deal with it.

“We’re always confident every time we play, we always think we can win but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, just got to make sure we get the little things right then the footy will take care of itself.”

Buffolin says his players to watch are Braith Lawrence Foye, Jye Patterson and Giovanni Nassau, along with Josh Turla and Ben Byron.

The Andrew Johns Cup Semi-Finals will take place at Glen Willow Regional Sports Complex, Mudgee; with the Rams and Illawarra kicking off at 12:00pm.

Catch all the Live Stream action on CRL’s Facebook page and crlnsw.com.au from 10:30am Saturday, 14th April