Time for Tigers to get ugly says coach Staff

Michael Rees has been named in the second row for Wingham in the reserve grade preliminary final against Port City at Kempsey on Sunday.
Michael Rees has been named in the second row for Wingham in the reserve grade preliminary final against Port City at Kempsey on Sunday.

FORGET about the pretty stuff. It's time to win ugly.

That's the message co-coach Brad Staff will stress to the Wingham players for Sunday's Group Three Rugby League reserve grade preliminary final against Port City at Kempsey.

The Tigers were unbeaten for all bar the last game of the season-proper. However, they went down 20-12 to Forster-Tuncurry in the major semi-final last Sunday and face the prospect of bowing out of the premiership race in straight sets.

Staff said the score flattered his side last week. So he said now's the time to get into the grind.

"We've been a bit pretty all year, but we have to learn to win ugly,'' Staff reasoned.

"We don't have to win 30-12 and score spectacular tries. A 10-8 win is good enough, that'll get us into the grand final.''

Staff said the Tigers completed at 30 per cent in the first half against the Hawks and 25 per cent in the second and he described this as unsatisfactory.

"We gave away six penalties in the first 12 minutes and all were warranted,'' he said.

"All we did was tackle and we were gassed when it was our turn with the ball.''

Staff expects hooker Adam Kerr to play, although he will have a run on his suspect hamstring at training tonight. However, Staff said the plan is to game manage Kerr through the match.

"Nugget (Kerr) still won't be 100 per cent fit. So we'll use Corey Wheeler off the bench and run him on to give Nugget a break,'' he explained.

"We want to use Corey's speed out of dummy half. Forster did the same to us last week with Tom Freeman and it worked really well.''

The Tigers will be without two of their quicker outside backs, Cooper Lewis and Michael Bailey. Lewis has a back injury, Bailey work commitments. So two under 18 players who were in the first grade side last week come into the starting 13.

Harry Lewis will be on one wing with Jarrad Gibson on the other. Lewis usually plays halfback in the 18s, while Gibson has played first grade for much of the year.

Staff said the Tigers will have to get back to basics. Ball control and defence will be paramount.

"And we have to start better,'' he said.

Staff agreed Port City will take plenty of beating.

"The Breakers played some good football last week to beat the Sharks,'' he pointed out.

"They're well coached and there are some good footballers in their side.''

Port City and minor premiers Macleay Valley will meet in the first grade match, with the winner to play Wauchope in the grand final at Wauchope on Sunday August 25.