Central North Rugby: Walcha homing in on first grand final appearance since 2012

Dynamic: Ed Churchill has been devastating at the back of what is widely regarded as the best backline in the competition. Photo: Peter Hardin

Dynamic: Ed Churchill has been devastating at the back of what is widely regarded as the best backline in the competition. Photo: Peter Hardin

It’s been a common denominator in both their narrow losses to Pirates, and the pressure will be on Walcha’s scrum to perform as the Rams chase their first top flight grand final appearance since 2012.

The Rams have shown a vulnerability at scrum-time, and it was a decisive factor in their major semi-final defeat, costing them ball and field position.

Expecting to come under heavy scrutiny from a Gunnedah side that destroyed Narrabri’s scrum, they have again devoted a lot of time to their scrum.

They have also brought Ross Fletcher back in hoping that will improve things.

“We’re hoping with the work we’ve done we can at least hold them, and get our own ball and get clean ball,” Rams co-coach Barry Hoy said.

Other than that there’s not really much they need to improve.

“We’ve played good footy. We’ve just got to carry on,” Hoy said.

Fletcher is one of a few changes, but the only unforced. Second rower Sandy Cameron is at a wedding, while breakaway Henry King and winger Dom Bower picked up injuries last week.

Bower’s knee is still “a bit dicey” so he has been named on the bench, but King isn’t expected to play. Hayden Jarmen will start in his place, Tom Rose for Cameron and Peter Young for Bower.

One of the biggest challenges for the Rams will be getting up after their major semi-final disappointment, but Hoy isn’t too worried.

“They set themselves a goal to play in the grand final,” he said.

“The end goal is still there.”

The Rams have won both clashes against the Red Devils, the second convincingly, but are expecting a tight encounter.

“The first one up here was one of the toughest games we’ve played all year. I’m expecting nothing different this weekend,” Hoy said.

He is preparing his side for another brutal forward tussle.

“They’ve got a big forward pack which we’ve got to contain,” he said.

Similar in that regard to Pirates, they will take a lot of confidence from the way they muscled up to, and were for a large portion of the game able to stifle their forward momentum.