Dewar Shield: Melbourne and Harlequins meet in top of the table clash
The two heavyweights of the 2016 Dewar Shield season face off this Saturday when Harlequins travel to Romanis Reserve to face Melbourne.
Each team remains unbeaten through six rounds and both head coaches said the game was one they have been looking forward to.
“We try to play it week by week but we always knew this was going to be the game that we’d be really tested,” said Harlequins’ coach Pom Simona.
Melbourne coach Tumai Edwards said his team will need to be well prepared to face the defending champions.
“When the draw comes out you tend to look for certain teams and with Quins being the benchmark for the past three years it’s a good way for us to test ourselves against the best team in the comp,”
“We take things one game at a time, but it’s always in the back of the mind that we want to make sure we’ve prepared well enough before we come up against them.”
Harlequins sit atop the ladder thanks to their impressive 203 point points differential. Melbourne are their closest rival in that statistic with a comparatively modest 107 points differential.
Quins are fresh off a 78-5 thrashing of Footscray but Simona said his team won’t let the result go to their heads.
“We’re not the sort of team to get too carried away. On Tuesday the guys were more disappointed with the things they didn’t get right.”
Both coaches identified the forwards as where the game will be won and lost.
“Their accuracy around the set-piece and the breakdown will be a real challenge for us to overcome,” said Simona.
“We’ve worked hard on our set-piece. I think the team that gets on top in the set-piece will go a long way to winning the game.”
Edwards added that the key to a win will be how each team’s reserves perform.
“The battle is definitely up front. What’s going to win the game is the impact that comes off the bench from both sides.”
The last time the two teams met at Romanis Reserve Melbourne prevailed 32-26 and Edwards said his team wants to make sure Harlequins do not leave with a win on Saturday.
“We’ve made a goal this year that we don’t want any team coming to our home ground and taking the win away from us. We want to put a lot of pride in making our home ground a fortress that’s going to be hard to win at.”
Edwards and Simona have their own history that brings an extra rivalry to the game. The two are old teammates having played together in New Zealand for Auckland University.
“It’s friendly rivalry, we’re good friends and now we get to go against each other, but it’s more about the players, we’ve got nothing to do with it on the day,” said Simona.