Muswellbrook Rams under-18s chasing back-to-back BHP Billiton Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League titles

MUSWELLBROOK Rams under-18 coach Paul Benkovic is hoping for a repeat performance when his young outfit faces the Singleton Greyhounds in this weekend’s grand final at Olympic Park.

The BHP Billiton Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League defending champions accounted for the same opponents 12 months ago – at the same venue – and the crafty mentor would love nothing more than a similar result on Saturday.

And, the Rams fine-tuned their preparations with a 34-0 shut-out of the Scone Thoroughbreds in the preliminary fixture last Sunday.

“That was a crucial game for us,” Benkovic admitted.

“It allowed the boys to get back in the right frame of mind.

“I didn’t expect them to win by so much.

“But, we needed that victory and I’m pleased the guys got the job done. 

“It’s funny, this season has mirrored 2016.

“We lost the major semi-final [against Singleton] and then beat Scone the following week.

“We’ve done exactly the same thing this year.

“Plus, we have eight or nine boys from last season’s squad, which is handy leading into the decider.

“A few of them have had a taste of first grade, too.

“My hope is the older guys – such as Brock Farrell, Paul Dengate, Bailey Taylor, Bryce Beverstock and Fletcher Baker – will inspire the younger ones.”

The Rams clinched the minor premiership by one point from the Greyhounds, however Benkovic knows that won’t count for anything come Saturday.

“Both sides are [reasonably] even,” he said.

“They’ve knocked us over twice, while we’ve enjoyed one win and a draw.

“On the scorecard it’s pretty much all square.

“We’re aware Singleton will keep coming at us.

“So, we have to want it more – and we need to be hungrier.

“Everyone has to be on their game.

“If we do that, and control the ball, we should be okay on the day.”

The under-18s take to the field from 11.50am, straight after the women’s league tag encounter.

Grand final – Saturday, September 2

At Olympic Park, Muswellbrook

10.30am: women’s league tag, Merriwa v Muswellbrook

11.50am: under-18s, Singleton v Muswellbrook

1.20pm: reserve grade, Aberdeen v Singleton 

3pm: first grade, Muswellbrook v Aberdeen