Central North Rugby: Scone pumped to host first final in a decade

THE bitter taste of defeat will be one of several factors spurring Scone on when it hosts Gunnedah in the second elimination final on Sunday.

The two met only a fortnight ago with the Red Devils outclassing the Brumbies 46-26 to end what was a disappointing second round for the Scone side.

After pushing the Pirates in the first game, they were well-beaten their next three.

But, refreshed after the bye, and with the return of some big guns, Brumbies co-coach Ben McRae is optimistic they can recapture the form that saw them earn a spot in the top tier for the first time.

It has been a season of firsts for the club with Sunday the first time they have hosted a Central North final.

“It’s pretty exciting,” McRae said.

“The last time we hosted a final was [against] Robb in 2007.”

McRae said they know they’ve got a challenge ahead of them.

And, hardly surprisingly, he added the Brumbies have got to be a lot better than they were two weeks ago.

He highlighted the breakdown as one of the areas they must improve upon.

“We probably need our back-row to stand up,” McRae said.

“The back-row wasn’t on their game.

“We have to be a lot harder at the breakdown and a lot more competitive.”

The other area they desperately need to fix is their defence, but McRae is confident they can “patch up that”.

“We’ve done a lot of work on that aspect,” he said.

“The return of Tim Maddocks at inside centre will also strengthen up the midfield, which is where the Red Devils tore them apart. 

“We have also polished up on our small percentage areas like exit plays.”

The Red Devils go into the showdown with pretty much the same side that took the field two weeks ago – and armed with the confidence that they’ve got the game to beat the Brumbies.

That last outing proved that.

“We found out where we should play against Scone,” coach Jason Waerea said.

He added the attitude at the club at the moment was very positive, with the players committed to what they’ve sorted out in their game plan.

It is possibly a more conservative plan than when they started the season but has been working well, Waerea admitted.

The encounter kicks off from 2pm.

Fresh challenge: Scone skipper Toby Twigg will be one of the keys for the Brumbies against Gunnedah.

Fresh challenge: Scone skipper Toby Twigg will be one of the keys for the Brumbies against Gunnedah.