Ask Orange Barbarians coaches Mitch Britt and Britt Carey-Speirs why their respective first grade and league tag sides look set to go deep into the 2019 New Era Cup finals and they'll give you plenty of reasons, two each in particular.
For the former the performances of Lionel Vanderwal and Michael Newman have been inspirational in leading the Barbarians to second through eight rounds, while the latter highlighted the efforts of first-year players Emily Bennett and Sophie Law and similarly monumental in their side's run to third.
All four will shape as crucial in the two sides' respective clashes with Portland and CSU Bathurst Blue at Wade Park, the former game part of the competition's Orange double header, which also includes CSU's match-up with the Lithgow Bears.
We're excited to host such a big day in the double header, it's a good idea from the competition to share them around.Barbarians player-coach Mitch Britt
"Lionel and Mick have been standouts this year, really leading the forward pack and laying the platform for our halves," Britt said.
"Emily and Sophie are both first-year players and they're playing some great tag," Carey-Speirs added, lauding the former in particular.
"Emily's had to step up to play dummy-half after representative hooker Jess Toohey broke her finger and is doing a great job."
"We're excited to host such a big day in the double header, it's a good idea from the competition to share them around and obviously we're playing but it's a good chance to sit back, relax and watch the rest of the competition as well," Britt continued.
The two sides do come into this weekend on different sides of the ledger, Britt's men's side ran rampant in scoring 22 unanswered, second-half points to hammer Lithgow last week while Carey-Speirs outfit was upset by the previously-winless Bears.
"Unfortunately we dropped that game which isn't ideal, but hopefully we bounce back and get a bit of a run into the finals," Carey-Speirs said.
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"We travelled a little light to Lithgow but welcome back a handful of players, like rep star Kasey Byrne, which will boost the side. They're a really good group of girls who are enjoying the season, if they keep having fun and working well together the wins will come."
"Portland will be tough as always, if our forwards just keep laying the platform through the middle our backs are classy enough to finish it off," Britt added.
"It's just about completing our sets, playing a possession game. It's classic bush footy, nothing too fancy, just hold the ball and don't give away too many penalties."
Barbarians face Portland from 1.45pm on Saturday afternoon at Wade Park, with Lithgow's clash against CSU Bathurst following that from 3.15pm.
The Barbarians face CSU Blue in league tag, which opens Saturday's monster day from 1.15pm.
- FIRST GRADE: 1 Grant Cock, 2 Brent Kuczinski, 3 Luke Coleman, 4 Ed Morrish, 5 Rob Carroll, 6 Mitch Britt, 7 Corey McLean, 8 Lionel Vanderwal, 9 Jake Kelly, 10 Jo Pugh, 11 Michael Newman, 12 Cody Jarman, 13 Jake Allen; Bench: 14 Ben Gosper, 15 Jordan Clark, 16 Josh Standing, 17 Mitch Bollinger, 18 Phil Essam, 19 Jarred Donlan, 20 Hayden Whiteman, 21 Lewis Bird
- LEAGUE TAG: 1 Leah Draper, 2 Chloe Hughes, 3 Dee Gillard, 4 Sally Marr, 5 Sophie Law, 6 Kasey Kyrne, 7 Bec Darcy, 8 Roxanne Allen, 9 Emily Bennett, 10 Amelia Clarke, 11 Brittany Rudd, 12 Alexa Wensleydale, 13 Fiona Littlejohn; Bench: 14 Romy Barrett, 15 Bec Fitzgerald, 16 Brooke Sharp, 17 Tamika Warner, 18 Ellie McClymont, 19 Nicole Blandford
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