Kurri coach Ron Griffiths does not subscribe to the theory a wounded Central team is running on old legs and are there for the taking in Saturday’sNewcastle RL minor semifinal at Kurri.
The inform Bulldogs are chasing a sixth straight win and are brimming with confidence after dismantling Maitland in last weekend’s elimination semfinal.
In contrast, Central iscoming off a demoralising 46-12 qualifying semi loss to South Newcastle at home and have chief playmaker Brad Murray battling a hamstring tear and in major doubt.
The suggestion around local league circles is Central’s reliance on a number of aging veterans, including the likes of Terence Seu Seu, Steve Gordon and Simon Williams, will bring them undone in the big games against fleetfooted, younger rivals.
But Griffiths was having none of that on Friday.
“As you get older, you work out the short-cuts and they have got us twice this season and both times, that was very evident,”Griffiths said.
“Both times, their experience out-shone what we produced so we know we have to change a few things andtry something different that we think might work for us.
“But at the end of the day, we just have a simple game plan and just make sure every time we take the park, we are willing to do whatever it takes for each other.”
Griffiths described injured fullback Kade Hardy, who suffered a shocking ankle dislocation and break during the win over Maitland, as “irreplaceable” but is hopefula big home ground advantage will play in his side’s favour.
Doubtful: Central playmaker Brad Murray [top] has a hamstring tear and is in extreme doubt for the minor semifinal showdown against Kurri at Kurri. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.
It will be a big day for Mitch Cullen with the Bulldogs lock celebrating his 150thgrade game for the club.
Central coach Craig Miller admits he has few options if Murray is ruled out but believes his side’s experience can be the difference in the pressure-cooker atmosphere at Kurri.
“Brad will try and train tonight but we’ll have to fabricate something if he can’t play,” Miller said on Friday.
“There is no doubt we were off the pace terribly last week but the boys who are being criticised as being too old are the same boys who helped getus to second so they must be doing a fair bit right.”
Lakes United coach Todd Edwards has pinpointed five-eighth Ryan Glanville and fullback Lachlan Walmsley as the major threats when his side hosts South Newcastle in the major semfinal at Cahill Oval on Sunday.
The winner will progress to the grandfinal with the loser taking on the winner of the Central/Kurri game in the preliminary final at Townson Oval next weekend.
Edwards said his side’s win over the Lions in the final round a fortnight ago will have no bearing on the outcome of this one.
“They were hugely impressive against Central with Glanville and their fullback leading the way but their two centres are very good and we’ll need to do a good job on Tori Freeman and Cameron King up front,” he said.