RETURNING captain-coach Adam Grech might not be the club's saviour.
But, his presence will certainly lift the Denman Devils as they prepare to tackle the Singleton Greyhounds in the Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League minor semi-final at Pirtek Park on Saturday, August 24.
The inspirational skipper, who's been on the injured list for more than a month, is champing at the bit to dive into the business end of the season.
"I can't wait," Grech said.
"Luckily, we've got a number of guys back this weekend, too.
"And, it couldn't have come at a better time.
"For various reasons, from injury to work commitments, we've had many bokes missing from the top side.
"But, the 'reggies' and under-18s really stepped up recently.
"Without them, we wouldn't have had a team the past five or so weeks - it's been a whole club effort.
"They've dragged us through a very tough period.
"It's certainly not the ideal preparation [leading into a semi].
"However, we'd like to win for those guys."
Despite some lop-sided results, including a 50-0 defeat to the Aberdeen Tigers in round 15, it's not all doom and gloom, according to Grech.
"There's one major positive in my eyes," he said.
"We've had the opportunity to blood a few young kids.
"Take Jackson Stair for instance.
"He's now forced his way into the side after picking up two players' player awards.
"That bodes well for the future of the Devils."
Although Denman placed fourth on the ladder, the squad enjoyed some success at the expense of this weekend's rivals.
Singleton prevailed 26-16 early, but the Devils bounced back with 18-10 and 26-12 victories.
The Greyhounds, however, responded in the best possible fashion, triumphing 38-16 and 84-0 in the past two outings.
"We're expecting a very vocal crowd at Pirtek Park," Grech said.
"Plus, Singleton enters the encounter full of confidence after playing well against minor premiers Scone Thoroughbreds in their previous hit-out.
"But, finals footy is a different mindset.
"So, we're hoping to ambush them.
"Even though we'll still be without Dylan Thorne, I'm quietly confident in the blokes at my disposal.
"I am sure everyone will turn up on the day."
First grade - Scone defeated Singleton 46-10, Aberdeen defeated Denman 50-0
Reserve grade - Murrurundi defeated Greta Branxton 30-24, Scone defeated Singleton 30-16, Aberdeen defeated Merriwa 14-12, Muswellbrook defeated Denman 68-0
Under-18s - Muswellbrook defeated Denman 38-26, Singleton defeated Scone 62-6
League tag - Merriwa defeated Aberdeen 24-4, Scone defeated Singleton 36-0, Muswellbrook defeated Denman 58-0
First grade - Scone 30, Aberdeen 16, Singleton 10, Denman 4
Reserve grade - Scone 25, Merriwa 24, Aberdeen 23, Muswellbrook 18, Singleton 18, Murrurundi 4, Greta Branxton 2, Denman 2 (qualification breach Rd.4 DRLFC loss of 2 points; qualification breach Rd.5 Murrurundi loss of 2 points)
Under-18s - Singleton 29, Muswellbrook 21, Aberdeen 15, Scone 14, Denman 9 (qualification breach Rd.1 DRLFC loss of 2 points)
League tag - Scone 28, Murrurundi 26, Merriwa 21, Muswellbrook 15, Singleton 12, Aberdeen 12, Denman 2 (qualification breach Rd.1 DRLFC loss of 2 points; qualification breach Rd.1 Muswellbrook loss of 2 points)
Club championships - Scone Rugby League Football Club Inc 125.5, Aberdeen Rugby League Football Club Inc 87.5, Singleton United Rugby League Football Club Inc 82, Muswellbrook Rugby League Football Club Inc 56.5, Merriwa Rugby League Football Club Inc 46.5, Denman Rugby League Football Club Inc 27, Murrurundi Rugby League Football Club Inc 22, Greta Branxton Rugby League Football Club Inc 3
Saturday, August 24 -
Minor semi-final (Pirtek Park, Singleton)
10am: league tag, Merriwa v Muswellbrook
11.15am: under-18s, Aberdeen v Scone
12.40pm: reserve grade, Aberdeen v Muswellbrook
2.15pm: first grade, Singleton v Denman
Sunday, August 25 -
Major semi-final (Scone Park, Scone)
10am: league tag, Scone v Murrurundi
11.15am: under-18s, Singleton v Muswellbrook
12.40pm: reserve grade, Scone v Merriwa
2.15pm: first grade, Scone v Aberdeen
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