Cowboys set for cracker of a match

THE Warwick Cowboys are set to play in their toughest home game of the season on Sunday when they take on an in-form Brothers Leprechauns.

But the Cowboys aren’t doing so bad themselves – they have lost just one game this season, drew against 2009 premiers Valleys and last week gave Wattles Warriors a 70-14 touch-up at Clifton.

Nonetheless Warwick A-grade coach Gary Lawrence said he was expecting a bruising encounter on Sunday.

“It’ll be a great challenge, it’ll be a tough, physical game of rugby league and there will be a lot of skill involved,” he said.

“It will be a great opportunity for the people of Warwick to see the best football they will have seen at home all year.”

The Cowboys will face an up-hill battle with inspirational co-captain Cameron Mulcahy likely to miss this Sunday’s match following a huge workload of representative football this season.

Lawrence criticised the way the representative football system was set up, saying it did not take into account club commitments.

“I think there’s a place for representative football in this competition but I think it needs to be worked around the fixtures better,” he said.

“It’s very hard to go away and play five games in Bundaberg and then expect the players to come back and play club football the following week. Our players all came back with injuries from Bundaberg ... the five games of rugby league in Bundaberg has hurt a number of our players.”

Luke Brosnan, Brendan McNicol, Zac Pauli and Bob Nicholls are also on the injury list and some will need to pass fitness tests at training tonight before they can be considered for this weekend’s game.

Lawrence said the Cowboys were still a way from their best.

“We’re just looking at each week and worrying about ourselves, this competition is close and we’ve just got to concentrate on doing everything right,” he said.

“We’re still a way from getting our combinations and set plays down. (Because of injuries) it’s been good because we’ve been able to give other people opportunities in positions they wouldn’t have otherwise been playing in.”

Brothers A-grade coach Lee Wharton said his side was not looking forward to facing a red-hot Cowboys side on Sunday in front of an expected vocal Warwick crowd.

Leprechauns lost to Valleys at the weekend by two points – the same losing margin from last year’s Toowoomba Rugby League grand final.

“We are aware of what Warwick will present on the weekend, it’s going to be a formidable side,” he said.

“They’ve got some classy backs like Trent Achilles and it’s going to be a very tough encounter for us. We’re not anywhere near full strength; we’re still working on some of our patterns and formations.

“It will probably be another four or five weeks before we start playing our best football.”

This time last year Brothers were second last on the ladder, but went on to win 11 straight games to make the grand final. That grand final appearance was at the expense of Warwick, who Brothers just defeated.

“Last year Warwick came home with a wet sail and the reality is we only just put it over them to win that spot in the grand final,” he said.

Wharton said by almost beating Valleys last year in the grand final they had shown other sides that they could be beaten.

“The hardest thing about beating Valleys is convincing the referees that they’re beatable ... when the game is close they panic in their decision-making process,” he said.

“It’s about enduring the pressure they present.”

One man who will be looking forward to this weekend’s match is Brothers club captain Sam Hannant – who lives and works in Warwick as a teacher at St Mary’s Primary School.

Wharton said he expected nothing less than Hannant’s usual effort on Sunday.

“Sam steps up every weekend and I think this will be his 99th game for Brothers in A-grade,” he said.

“He’s a wonderfully talented young man and he is dedicated to the club – his family have been involved with Brothers for generations now.”

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