“WE win as 27, we suffer setbacks as 27” – that’s the credo, which Muswellbrook Rams under-18 coach Paul Benkovic has instilled into his Group 21 side.
BRIGHT FUTURE: The Muswellbrook Rams under-18 squad – back, LeagueSafe Rob Beckingham, Paul Dengate, Lochlan Paine, Joaby Stevens, Cody Risby, Will Noonan, Brad Collett, LeagueSafe Chris Dengate; middle, coach Paul Benkovic, FAO Kim Beverstock, Koby Adam-Smith, Brock Farrell, Reinhard Lategan, Annaru Komene, Bailey Taylor (c), Jake Parker, Jason Mackay, Wade Mackenzie, assistant coach Mick Barnes, manager Jonas Merrick; and, front, Blake Kellett, Will Picton, Bryce Beverstock, Fletcher Baker, Alex Armstrong, Tom Bianco, Brock Mathews and Brodie Collins – which will face the Singleton Greyhounds in Sunday’s Group 21 grand final.
And, it’s a bond the mentor hopes will hold the youngsters in good stead against the Singleton Greyhounds in Sunday’s grand final at Olympic Park.
“I had a squad of 27 at the start of the year,” he said.
“Since then, everyone’s played their part.
“They’ve been fantastic – they are a great bunch of kids.
“They’re all very respectful.
“In fact, I can’t speak highly enough about them.
“They’re also local juniors, which makes this journey even more special.
“A lot have come through the club’s ranks from day one.
“But, all in all, they’ve worked extremely hard to be in the position they’re in.
“Assistant coach Mick Barnes, and LeagueSafe trio Rob Beckingham, Chris Dengate and Kim Beverstock, have also been sensational for me.
“I’m thrilled with the excellent support I’ve received.
“It’s been a huge team effort.”
The Rams sent the Scone Thoroughbreds packing in last Sunday’s final, despite trailing their rivals 10-4 midway through the second half.
However, tries to Brad Collett and Jayden Kennedy, plus two goals to Bailey Taylor, saw Muswellbrook prevail 16-10.
“They didn’t panic, which was important,” Benkovic said.
“They’re not only fighters, they all have good heads on them.
“I was very proud the guys maintained their composure under pressure.”
Benkovic said the Rams had shifted their focus onto the Greyhounds, the only outfit to beat them in 2016.
“That loss, 12-10 in the major semi-final, taught the boys they’re not invincible,” he admitted.
“I believe they are hungry for it [success] now.
“Three or four of them also played in the 2015 grand final.
“This is their chance to avenge that defeat.
“The players kept cool heads (against Scone) – they’ll need to do that this weekend, too.”
Muswellbrook tackles Singleton at 11.20am, following the women’s league tag encounter between Scone and Greta Branxton from 10am.
The squad is:PaulDengate, Lochlan Paine, Joaby Stevens, Cody Risby, Will Noonan, Brad Collett, Koby Adam-Smith, Brock Farrell, Reinhard Lategan, Annaru Komene, Bailey Taylor (c), Jake Parker, Jason Mackay, Wade Mackenzie, Blake Kellett, Will Picton, Bryce Beverstock, Fletcher Baker, Alex Armstrong, Tom Bianco, Zac Dean, James Howard, Ethan Alderson, Hayden Moxey, Jayden Kennedy,Brock Mathews andBrodie Collins.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.