TIGERS NEED TO LIFT SAYS SMART
By Les Muir
PUTTING Southcity squarely on a pedestal, Gundagai captain-coach James Smart has declared the Tigers must improve to topple the Bulls in the major semi-final at Harris Park on Sunday.
Despite Gundagai thrashing Young 48-4 a week ago, Smart believes the Tigers slashing form will not stand the test against Southcity.
“Obviously we played really well last week but it’s important we back it up this week,” Smart said on Friday.
“And even though we played well (last week), we’ll need to go to another level against Southcity.”
Coming in the wake of Gundagai’s nine tries to one hiding of faltering Young, Smart’s reverence for Southcity most assuredly stems from the result of their last meeting.
Six weeks ago, Southcity smashed Gundagai 50-10 at Harris Park before sweeping past Junee (30-16), Tumbarumba (24-18), Temora (60-4) and Brothers (64-6) to collect the minor premiership.
For Smart, Southcity’s booming finish to the premiership rounds only heightens the importance of Gundagai rising to the challenge in the grand final qualifier on Sunday.
Amid injury concerns for several players – Smart declined to nominate them – the Tigers coach is adamant he will not be taking any passengers into the game.
“We’ve got a few players who are 50-50 at the moment,” he said.
“They’ll be checked at training tonight (Friday) and the decision whether they play or not will be made tonight.
“If they’re not 100 percent they won’t be playing.”
The hard line only reinforces Smart’s high opinion of the Wagga team – and he is not about to cut corners.
Almost scoffing at the suggestion Southcity could be adversely affected by a week’s rest in the first rounds of finals, Smart said the Bulls were “always ready to go”.
“That’s the way their players are,” he said.
“I wouldn’t expect anything else.”
As usual, history supports Smart’s astute rtheory.
Last year Southcity claimed the minor premiership, had a week off before upstaging Gundagai 34-22 in the major semi-final at Harris Park.
Likewise, the Bulls had another week’s break before edging Gundagai 22-18 in the grand final.
Thoughts of what is to come will not be an issue for Gundagai on Sunday, according to Smart.
“We won’t be thinking out at the grand final or playing next week,” he said.
“The entire focus will be on Sunday’s game.”