Discipline is the key to the Macleay Valley Mustangs dethroning the undefeated Port City Breakers in Sunday’s Group Three Rugby League grand final qualifier.
The Mustangs advanced after defeating the Port Macquarie Sharks in a game that saw both sides let emotions get the best of them.
Infringements resulted in both sides having a player sent from the field and another two from each team spent time in the sin bin.
Macleay Valley can’t afford to produce the same mistakes against the Breakers, who scored 131 more points and leaked 135 points less than the Mustangs in the regular season.
“It was a tough game on Sunday (against the Sharks) both sides weren’t giving an inch,” Mustangs captain-coach Dennis Ritchie said.
“We would be building pressure but then giveaway a silly penalty and the Sharks would get into our territory and score off the back of it."
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The Mustangs overturned a 24-16 deficit they faced early in the second half of Sunday’s semi-final to take a 40-24 advantage into the final 10 minutes of the match.
However, the side switched off and if it wasn’t for wayward goalkicking, it would have been a nervous last defensive set.
The Sharks had crossed for their second try in consecutive sets to reduce the lead to eight points with two minutes remaining but an unsuccessful conversion ensured the Mustangs’ victory.
“I have spoke at training this week about working towards playing the full 80 minutes,” Ritchie said.
“We can’t switch off against the Breakers because they will make us pay every time.”
The Mustangs lost their two meetings with the Breakers this season, going down 34-22 on the road before suffering a 20-14 loss at home.
Macleay Valley are hopeful they will be able to stop the Breakers’ forwards from gaining momentum in the middle of the field which will restrict the space created for the Port City’s outside backs.
“If we go out there and let our footy do the talking then I know we can come away with the win,” Ritchie said.
“We need to play with the right mindset and the game will be ours.”
The winning team will host the grand final of all grades.
The club’s reserve grade side and U18.5s team will also be in action this weekend.
The Mustangs reserves head to Lank Bain Complex, Wauchope to face the Port Macquarie Sharks in an elimination final at 1.25pm on Saturday.
The U18.5s are against the Taree City Bulls in a grand final qualifier at noon on Sunday with the Mustangs and Breakers match held at 3pm at the same venue at Regional Stadium, Port Macquarie.