Newcastle rugby: Coach hopes video session has Wanderers primed for preliminary final battle with Southern Beaches

BIG OUT: The Two Blues will miss the power and pace of winger Bill Coffey in the preliminary final against Southern Beaches. Picture: Stewart Hazell.
BIG OUT: The Two Blues will miss the power and pace of winger Bill Coffey in the preliminary final against Southern Beaches. Picture: Stewart Hazell.

WANDERERS coach Viv Paasi hopes the penny has dropped – the Two Blues’ premiership hopes could hinge on it.

Paasi put his players through a video session on Monday in preparation for the preliminary final against Southern Beaches at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.

It wasn’t a simply a case of highlighting the things the Two Blues did well in the 59-5 win over Maitland in the minor semi-final. Paasi also looked at the last-ditch 20-19 loss to Southern Beaches in the qualifying semi-final the week before.

“We cut up a video and did a comparison between the Beaches game and the Maitland game,” Paasi said 

“There were a couple of identical situations in both games and we looked at the two options we took. It showed the boys; this is what we do well, this is how we do it and why we do it. Against Beaches we didn’t play our way. We kicked a lot without any real purpose and got a bit lost. Our set piece went quite well against them but in general play, at times we didn’t take the right option. That was the message on the Monday heading into Maitland – make sure we play our way and stick to the game plan.”

Paasi has been forced to make one change from the Maitland rout. Powerhouse winger Bill Coffey, who scored two trademark tries against the Blacks, is in Fiji at a wedding and has been replaced by George Ashworth.

“We have known since March that Billy would be unavailable this weekend,” Paasi said. “George has played a lot of first grade this year and has been great for us. He gives you those second and third efforts in attack and defence, and he reads the game really well.”

Southern Beaches, after leading 10-3 at half-time into the wind, were over-run 27-10 by Hamilton in the major semi-final. They played the final 10 minutes with 14 men after Vilai Kelemete was sent off for a dangerous tackle. The replacement lock was found guilty at the judiciary on Wednesday but escaped suspension.

Fly-half Michael Delore remains out with a knee injury.

“We will go with Pete Madden again,” coach Johan Lourens said. “Pete is a great young man and has good calmness to him. It works well. He had big shoes to fill but I was very happy with him last week.”

Southern Beaches, like they did against Wanderers, struggled at the set piece against the Hawks.

“We pride ourselves on our scrummaging and have put a hell of a lot of work into it this week,”  Lourens said.

“Saturday will come down to one thing; which 15 players want it more. We have to be better. That is the most important message we keep saying – we have to be better.”