SIRU2018 Grand Final
Wagga Waratahs v Wagga Ag College
3:15pm Conolly Park, Wagga Wagga Saturday 18th August 2018
Here we are again at the pointy end of the season at the big dance, with two Wagga based clubs going head to head this weekend. 2018 has definitely been the year of the Waratah, blitzing all before them this season on the road to the main game against their plucky young rivals, Wagga Ag College.
For those punters new to the area, there’s actually a pretty significant history between these two teams in terms of Grand Final appearances, these clubs went toe-to-toe in back to back Grand Finals about 10 years ago from my memory.
Interestingly, Ag College have no Grand Final experience in their ranks whereas Waratahs are flush with GF experience coming into this match with plenty of cattle back from 2017, let’s also remember that Waratahs have played in 4 straight GF’s now.
The 2018 season has been dominated by Waratahs as they have stormed through the season picking up 14 wins with 14 bonus points with a massive points differential of +900!! This is a pretty amazing tally in comparison to Ag College who bagged 9 wins for 11 bonus points and a points differential of +237.
Previous encounters this season were won by Waratahs on both occasions, 65-14 in Round One and 84-26 in Round Eight and while we all know that strange things happen on Grand Final days, there’s no denying that those figures are pretty impressive.
There’s been some ongoing debate in recent seasons about the current Top 5 Finals Format and what it means for the Minor Premier etc, but I reckon Waratahs will be pretty happy to have had a restful (freezing in Tumut?) week off last week whereas Aggies could be more likened to the “Walking Dead”.
Ben Brooke is allegedly booking into the Equine Science Department for some cutting-edge research into the effects of horse steroids and their effectiveness in treating shoulder injuries, Pat Lemmich tried his luck at the Wagga Base Hospital and enjoyed a room with a view while recovering from an infection picked up recently. Hopefully, injury doesn’t play a part in the outcome of this match for either team.
One of the features of the Waratahs’ game in 2018 has been the out and out speed displayed by Corey Toole and Blake Hart on either side of the field. Ag College will need to keep these two honest if they are serious about giving the title a shake. Can Will Whiteley and Andrew Knox contain these two livewires?
Early in the season, Ag College had some major flaws through their set-piece which was causing them all sorts of problems, they seem to have this area of their game in order now but this will definitely be tested by a Waratahs outfit who really pride themselves on clean lineouts and solid scrums. Keep an eye on Matt Harris and Harry Hosegood around the lineouts.
While Waratahs deserve the “favourites” tag coming into this game, they won’t be “crowd favourites”. For Ag College, the 2018 season could only be defined as emotional, a series of ups and downs early in the season, a social media distraction mid-season and the tragic passing of Andy “Col” Stanham, Coach Will Mitchell’s brother just weeks before the finals. What a roller-coaster ride it’s been for such a young group of fellas.
Emotion will actually be pretty important for both teams in my view, Aggies will be fuelled by emotion and Waratahs will respect where Aggies are coming from. There’s a very close relationship between these two clubs and I have no doubt that respect is borne through some of the key leaders at both clubs – their captain’s in particular.
Grand Final Day is always the best day of the local rugby calendar, some people describe it as being better than Christmas. I’m definitely in that boat and am keen as mustard to see what Saturday brings to the table!!
#SIRU2018 Grand Final kicks off at 3:15pm at Conolly Park, Wagga Wagga
Referee: Sam Donelan
Waratahs: 1. Chris Murray, 2. Jock Munro, 3. James Daley, 4. Austin Wallace, 5. Charlie Sykes, 6. Jake Eaglesham, 7. Sam Bunny, 8. Harry Hosegood, 9. Sam Hobbs, 10. Xavier Chigwidden, 11. Corey Toole, 12. Tim Corcoran ©, 13. Matt Shortis, 14. Blake Hart, 15. Dan Selmes, Coach. Richard Skellern
Ag College: 1. Duncan Woods, 2. Patrick Lemmich, 3. Jack A McIntosh, 4. Matt Harris, 5. Liam Mowbray, 6. Charles Callaghan, 7. Mike Van Diggelen, 8. Ben Brooke, 9. Gerard McTaggart, 10. Cam Duffy ©, 11. William Whiteley, 12. Hamish Pennington, 13. Lochlan Ramm, 14. Andrew Knox, 15. Jock Ward, Coach. Will Mitchell