Rebels and Rats look to secure finals berth

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Saturday’s clash between Southern Districts and Warringah will feature two of the competition’s most exciting backlines, with both teams averaging more than 30 points a match in 2015. Despite that, it’s defence and the battle up front that will decide Saturday’s match, according to coaches Matt Barr and Greg Marr.

Although Warringah sit just five points below the Rebels in fourth place, the Rats have flown under the radar for most of this season. Coming off a big win over Gordon last week, Warringah take confidence into the match of the round, but are still looking to complete an 80 minute performance.

“At the beginning of the season we were slow starters, but would come home with a wet sale,” Rats coach Greg Marr said.

“Now its sort of swung back the other way, we seem to start really well and then we slacken off mentally as the game progresses.”

Southern Districts were also guilty of complacency against Parramatta last weekend, leaking four tries against the 11th placed Two Blues. Despite scoring 50 points, Matt Barr was far from impressed with his side’s defensive performance and is expecting a big improvement this weekend.

“That’s what we have spoken about during the week and after the game. Our attitude in terms of the collision and the breakdown and the tackle was off compared to our wins against West Harbour and Eastwood,” Barr said.

“We’ve put a big emphasis on that this week and we needed to, Warringah are a good side with a lot of points in them, so we need to make sure we shut them down.”

Whilst Barr admitted the Rats have threats right across the park, he highlighted Josh Holmes and Hamish Angus as the key danger men.

“They are very smart footballers and you always spend a bit of time preparing to play those guys. Holmes at nine is very dangerous and likes to pick up ball runners, so our ruck defence needs to be very good.”

“Then you’ve got Hamish Angus, who manages the game very well. He knows when to kick, he knows when to pass and he feeds his outside backs very well.”

Marr acknowledged the impact Holmes and Angus have on his side, but held most of his praise for his side’s forward pack, who he believes can win the match for Warringah.

“That battle up front will set the tone for the match. Both backlines are good, but they need their forwards to be dominating to put them on the front foot,” Marr said.

“We’ve got to be solid at set piece, then if we can get on top of them a little bit, our backs will do the rest.”

The Rats face Manly, Sydney Uni and Eastwood in the coming weeks and know they need to start beating the competition’s better sides, if they want to be a threat come finals time.

“It’s a real tough run into the semis, but it’s going to teach us that we need to play for 80 minutes if we are going to get anywhere in the finals,” Marr said.

With just two bonus point wins separating fourth from ninth, neither side can afford to take their foot off the pedal.

Catch Southern Districts play Warringah live on 7TWO from 3pm this Saturday.