This weekend’s forfeit from the Bungendore Mudchooks in their match against the Crookwell Dogs was a “godsend”, according to Crookwell coach Ian McIntosh.
After struggling recently with a spate of injuries, the Dogs travelled to Bungendore with a whopping eleven players ruled out.
Ahead of this weekend’s crucial clash with the Taralga Tigers, McIntosh said that a week of rest will have done his players a world of good.
“A week out helped us immensely, it’s just blokes carrying little niggly injuries and things like that
“We should have a full compliment back this week, with a bit of luck.”
It will be crucial for the Dogs to field a top-tier side against Taralga. Against most other sides in the competition, Crookwell have enough depth of quality to call on their reserve players and still win.
But against the Tigers, who McIntosh said are just as good as his side, the Dogs will need their best back on the field.
The last game between the two, which took place in round nine, resulted in a tight 17-10 victory to Crookwell.
However, Taralga led for significant portions of that match, and it was only a last-gasp effort from the Dogs which put them ahead at the buzzer.
This time around, McIntosh believes the match could be even tighter.
“They’re a very good team, in this comp they’re the team to beat,” he said.
“We’ve lost one and they’ve lost one, and us and them have set the standard in the comp.”
What will make the proposition all the more difficult for the Dogs is that the match will be played in Taralga.
“Over there it will be very tough, because their locals will be out in force,” McIntosh said.
“Like the Dogs, they have a big following [among the locals].”
A win this weekend would cement the Dogs’ position as leaders of the competition and give them some breathing space at the top of the ladder, however McIntosh is not looking too far ahead.
“We’re just taking every game as it comes along,” he said.
“The biggest drawcard for Taralga and us, whoever goes through from here on in undefeated will get the home ground advantage come finals time.”
The influence of home games during finals cannot be understated. McIntosh said local support can equate to an extra 10 points per game.
“If you get a big crowd behind you, like we did that big weekend in Crookwell, it lifts the team,” he said.
“We trained hard for it, but your home ground advantage, it’s an extra 10 points.”