Avondale coach James Patrick believes Tech Waratahs fly-half Lee Martin stands in the way of a Wombats victory in today’s major semi-final at Ocean Park.
Avondale’s Daryl Sanft, Anthony Amone, Eli Sinoti, Waka Horne, Roger Cairns and Andre Itula. Picture: DAVE TEASE
Martin was superb in Tech Tahs’ triumph over University in last week’s qualifying semi-final and will have to be equally as good today if his side hopes to overcome the minor premiers.
Patrick was on hand to see the veteran playmaker dismantle Uni and knows his side’s title aspirations could be in trouble if they don’t minimise Martin’s impact on the game.
“Lee Martin was great against Uni. He was the little general out there,” Patrick said.
“He was very positive for their team and kept them going forward. He’s just got a calm head. He’s been around a long time and that experience counts for a lot.
“The Tech forward pack is very strong and dominant, and then you have Lee out there directing their forwards and backs.
“Their backline probably hasn’t been as classy as previous years, but their forwards and Lee make up for it.”
The Wombats claimed the minor premiership but the Tahs were hot on their heels for most of the year.
Avondale came from behind to beat Tech twice during the season, winning 49-37 on the Tahs’ home ground before prevailing 34-26 in the second clash.
Patrick has enormous respect for Tech Tahs and is taking nothing for granted today.
“I’m confident in the ability of our boys to do what they need to do, it’s just that you don’t know which Tech team is going to show up,” he said.
“If you get a Tech team that’s fired up and ready to go, they’re a hard team to beat. Even if you were to say we had their measure all year, it’s a different game in the finals. They’re built for finals.
“Obviously [captain] Timmy [Olsen] is the same as Lee. Those two blokes just keep Tech going. They’re the first to do things and wouldn’t put any of their teammates through anything they wouldn’t do themselves.
“It’s the same with [Tahs prop] Harry [Hawksworth]. He’s another good leader with a steady head because he’s played in a lot of finals and grand finals.”
Patrick believes the Wombats learned valuable lessons in the 2011 grand final loss to Vikings.
“Playing Vikings last year, we were way out of our depth … but there’s a different feeling this year. The boys are confident without being cocky,” he said.
“We’ve got about seven blokes who were in last year’s grand final team and they’re better for it this year.
“We’re at full strength so there’s certainly no excuses. We’re fielding the strongest team we have and we’re looking forward to the tussle.
“Training has been full of nerves and excitement. As long as our boys put in the efforts I know they can, I won’t be disappointed. If the effort’s there I’ll be happy either way.”
Meanwhile, University will be aiming to bounce back from last week’s loss when they meet Shoalhaven in tomorrow’s minor semi-final at Camden.
Uni kept Tech Waratahs honest in last week’s qualifying final but still went down 31-16.
Shoalhaven overran Shamrocks in extra time
of the elimination final after the teams were
tied at 18-all at the end of normal time.
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