Rebels confident ahead of do-or-die semi final
FIRST GRADE: South Grafton Rebels first-grade captain Luke Welch doesn't care if this afternoon's minor semi-final against the Sawtell Panthers is as tight as the last clash between the teams.
"We beat them with a field goal right at the end,” Welch said.
"Alan McKenzie kicked a beauty from 40m out.
"It was a fantastic way to end a great game. If we have to repeat it on Saturday, that will be fine by me.”
Welch said the Rebels were buzzing after the last two weekends of football against cross-town rivals the Grafton Ghosts, despite losing both games.
"The way we improved from one week to the next, that's what we've been working on all season,” he said.
"Last week we put it to them right from the start and had our chances.
"If we play with that intensity again this week there's no risk we'll come away with a win.”
Welch said the Rebels and Panthers were a good match for each other across the field.
"They've got speed and strength across the field mainly in the same areas as us,” he said.
"We match up well, which is probably reflected in the scores we've had against them.”
He said pack leader and second rower Grant Brown was a key player.
"Brownie knows how to ramp up the intensity and he's the player we turn to when we need a big play,” he said.
"He's played and won grand finals, so he knows how to win these big games.”
Welch said his halves combination of McKenzie and five-eighth Hughie Stanley was another strength in big games.
"Both have brilliant game awareness,” Welch said.
"They know how to manage a game. They can play up tempo when needed and can slow it down when you're closing it out.”
Welch is confident the Rebels can take their finals campaign further.
"We've worked really hard on achieving consistency, especially in the second half of the season,” he said.
"Our discipline has improved so we're not giving teams those easy metres out of defence and we're not trying to score on every play in attack.
"That's how you've got to play in finals and that's what we've been able to do.”