THEY can consider themselves unlucky not to have finished as the Ferguson Cup minor premiers, but CSU will cast those thoughts aside this Saturday as they fight to keep their season alive.
A quirk of the draw saw CSU, Dubbo Rhinos and Mudgee allocated one less game than the other nine teams in the competition.
So while CSU actually won more matches that minor premiers West Wyalong – the students victorious in 11 of their 12 games – they ended up missing top spot by one point.
But in a further twist, the Mudgee team CSU now faces in an elimination final as part of the seven-team finals format, declined to play the students when the quirk was discovered and offered the chance to balance things out.
“Us and Mudgee played one game less than anyone else, so we requested a make-up match against Mudgee to make it even. They weren’t interested in it, but that just makes us excited to verse them in the semis,” CSU coach Dom Huggett said.
CSU has beaten Mudgee twice already this season, winning 29-10 at University Oval then scrapping home 29-22 in the second meeting on the Wombats’ home turf.
Those games highlighted one big area where Mudgee can threaten this Saturday.
“Mudgee have a few big girls who are very solid up the middle. They are very good at scrumaging – in the second round they pretty much would have won all the scrums in the first half I reckon,” Huggett said.
“They are also very good off the line-out. They have a few moves which, if they get a line-out near our line, they are very dangerous.
“So we have to shut that down, we know they are good in the forwards.”
What will help CSU in its bid to contain the Mudgee pack is the work they have put into improving their defence.
“Our attack I feel is good, I’m comfortable with it, we’re pretty good out wide and everyone knows what to do. Our defence, well it’s not been the worst, but it’s not been the best,” Huggett said.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve been doing a lot of contact work against each other and really working on our mentality in defence. Working on those one-on-one tackles against the bigger girls – that’s something which we’ve lack in our games.
“Without a doubt we’ve improved that. A lot of it is the mental work, a lot of these girls have never played a contact sport and when you get a really big player running at them full pace, they get a bit scared.
“But we’ve got comfortable now whacking each other and because of that, yeah, our defence has improved. It’s just understanding defence and how the plays work, it’s all coming together now.
“I’m excited to see how we go against Mudgee’s forward pack.
“We’ve got two forwards missing from our side this weekend, but in saying that, we have got quite good depth. We have some strong tacklers that we can slot in and we’ve got some strong runners, so I’m not too worried.”
CSU’s final against Mudgee will kick-off at 2pm at Molong, with Cowra and Emus plus Bulldogs and Temora to square-off as well.