ILLAWARRA Cutters coach Paul McGregor knows a thing or two about league. When his team faces Newtown in an elimination final in the first round of the NSW Cup finals at Win Jubilee Oval today, he won’t be changing a game plan that qualified the Cutters for the finals in their first season in the competition.
”Forwards win games of footy, mate, the backs finish them off,” the 14-game NSW Origin centre said.
Illawarra missed out on a top-four finish by just one point, and the club’s success has surprised many. McGregor pinpointed his strong forward pack as the catalyst.
”Our forwards have been outstanding. I don’t hide from the fact that I think our forward pack, barring one or two games, has been the dominant factor in all our success this season,” he said. ”That’s where I think we’ve laid a good platform and that won’t change for the finals.
”I’m expecting our front-rowers [Jack Stockwell and Leeson Ah Mau] to take the challenge up to Newtown, who I know will be really aggressive and at a hundred miles an hour,” the Illawarra legend said.
The Cutters will be without one vital ingredient this week with second-rower and player of the year David Gower to miss the clash with compartment syndrome in his lower leg. While the Cutters have used more than 50 players throughout the year, McGregor is realistic about his team’s loss. ”That will affect us, there’s no doubt about that. Dave [Gower], he’s been fantastic for us. It was touch and go this week but he hasn’t been able to run properly all week. Fingers crossed he’ll be there next week if we are.”
Despite losing twice to the Jets this season, including a heart-breaking one-point loss in round 25 that kept the Newtown season alive, McGregor is confident his team can continue its dream run into week two of the finals.
”It’s a semi-final – that loss has been forgotten, to be honest,” he said. ”Obviously we took a lot out of it to come up with a game plan for Sunday but we’re not worried about that one-point loss.
”We want to get out there and play the way we know we can, we’re the second-best defensive side in the competition and we know that we are going to have to defend well against the quality of Newtown. To limit Newtown scoring points, you’ve got to restrict their field position.
”They’ll be relying on their big front row to do some damage with a smart No.9 in [Kurt] Kara.
”Their danger comes in the form of momentum from their quick play-the-ball.
”But we’ve got a fair bit of resolve in our unit defensively and semi-finals are won on defence. We’ve got to have good discipline, not give away any cheap penalties, we’ve got to hunt together as a pack because Newtown come at you one-out and when they win the play-the-ball, they get on a roll so our biggest focus tomorrow will be our defence.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.