An extremely close battle is expected in this Saturday’s grand final between the Kempsey Cannonballs Under-18s and the Southern Cross University Marlins, but Cannons coach James Lancaster knows his side is up for the challenge.
“They need to take it as just another game, not get too excited because it's a grand final and stick to the way they play,” Lancaster told the Argus.
“If they’re able to do that then they are capable of being champions.
“I know they have it in them and I am looking forward to it.”
The Cannonballs and Marlins did battle a fortnight ago, with the Cannonballs prevailing 23-12 in the major semi-final.
Kempsey, who finished the season as the minor premiers, are dangerous on the edges but Lancaster acknowledges they will need to match it with the Marlins in the middle of the field before they earn the right to attack out wide.
“They have a very good and big set of forwards and they like to play through them and control the ball,” Lancaster said.
“We will need to match them and get the ball in our hands as much as possible.
“Then we will have the chance to spread the ball to our outside backs and try to attack their weakness.
“We just need to make the most of the opportunities we create.”
Lancaster has watched the side develop throughout the season and is hopeful they are rewarded for their hard work.
“They are a really good bunch of kids, always eager to learn and do the hard work,” Lancaster said.
“They aren’t the biggest side but they play smart and to their strengths.”
The Cannonballs will be steered around the park by flyhalf Heath Lancaster, who spent the end of the regular season backing up for the first grade side.
The rugby prodigy excelled playing at the higher level and the experience will help him keep a cool head in the important moments of Saturday’s decider.
The Under-18s grand final is scheduled to kick off at 11.25am at Oxley Oval, Port Macquarie.
All of the Upper Mid North Coast Rugby Union grand finals will be played at the venue with the Hastings Valley Vikings earning the right to host the Coffs Harbour Snappers in the first grade decider.
The Under-18s are the Cannonballs’ last chance of lifting a premiership for the 2018 season, with the injury plagued first grade side and women’s team falling short of the finals while the reserve grade, Under-16s and Under-14s suffered narrow defeats in last week’s preliminary finals.
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