THE Muswellbrook Rams will put it all on the line as the club enters the Hunter Valley Group 21 rugby league play-offs.
And, a big crowd is expected to converge on Olympic Park on Sunday after the Rams secured a home minor semi-final.
Muswellbrook has its sights on the first grade and women’s league tag fixtures this weekend while the under-18s will take to the field on August 17.
The Rams tackle defending premiers Denman Devils in the main encounter from 3pm with the Ramettes facing the Greta Branxton Fillies at 12.10pm.
Singleton locks horns with Greta Branxton in under-18s, and the Murrurundi Mavericks go head-to-head with the same opponent in reserves.
3pm – Muswellbrook Rams v Denman Devils
A mighty clash is expected in first grade.
Muswellbrook scored two convincing wins throughout the regular season while Denman grabbed a come-from-behind victory in round three.
There is no love lost between these sides and Sunday should be no different.
The previous outing between the Rams and Devils saw Muswellbrook victorious 34-20, so each outfit has points in them.
The Rams have hit form at the right time of the year, winning their past four games in good style.
Muswellbrook should be at full strength, which will see captain-coach Josh Pearsall return to the side after resting last weekend.
Nathan Berry has moved into the hooking role; and been able to control the game from the centre.
Jacob Pottinger, who’s relished the move back to lock, has shown he can break a line if the opposition aren’t on their toes.
Another in-form Ram is Ewin Bartholomew, who has shown all season he is the form five-eighth in the competition.
With a three-try effort last week, he’ll be looking to continue that momentum on the weekend.
The change in the Muswellbrook side seems to be they have learnt how to grind out a game and play for 80 minutes, which is what is needed to win semi-final football.
1.20pm – Murrurundi Mavericks v Greta Branxton Colts
THE Mavericks have been the form side throughout 2014, leading most of the regular season, only to slip off the pace and finish in third.
The two sides have met only once this year, way back in round four, and the Mavericks showed their class on this day running away with the game and scoring a convincing 42-4 victory.
If they can reproduce this form, they will be a good chance of winning through to the final.
The Colts were unconvincing in the last round against the much-improved Rams as they scrapped home 18-14 at Olympic Park.
The form has improved slightly but any hiccups could see another big score racked up in this game.
The feeling is this match will be decided by a Shane Allen special – and see the Mavericks sneak home in a close affair.
Women’s league tag
12.10pm – Muswellbrook Ramettes v Greta Branxton Fillies
THE girls’ format has proven to be a winner as they always show enthusiasm, passion and determination to win.
It has been a great gamble by Group 21 officials to introduce this form of the game and, now the semi-finals are here, this should see the level lift again.
This game will pit the high-scoring Ramettes against the much-improved Greta Branxton Fillies.
The Fillies have been steadily improving throughout the season and proved they will be no push over in this match, as they showed at Greta Oval they can mix it with the best.
On that occasion, they defeated the Ramettes 18-8 in a close tussle, back in round nine.
Muswellbrook has shown throughout 2014 it boasts speed and power to score points after finishing the regular season with 444 points and only having 146 against.
This has the Ramettes favourites going into the game.
The girls have had big victories over the Fillies and, in the round 14 clash, scored a convincing 36-6 triumph to avenge the earlier loss.
They showed on this day their defence is as strong as their attack and this is what wins big games at this time of the year.
The Ramettes to continue a good season and to run out winners here.
10.45am – Singleton Greyhounds v Greta Branxton Colts
THIS game will be a classic semi-final as the no-nonsense Colts have been showing a marked improvement this year.
But, they will need to keep their fiery second-rowers in check to advance.
Singleton showed it has pace to burn and will certainly test the defence of the Colts for the full 60 minutes.
They came from behind in the last game against the young Rams to almost steal the victory.
The bounce of the ball could decide this one.
The Colts to win a close one here.
Hunter Valley Group 21 minor semi-final draw
Sunday – Olympic Park, Muswellbrook
10.45am: Under-18s – Singleton Greyhounds v Greta Branxton Colts
12.10pm: Women’s league tag – Muswellbrook Ramettes v Greta Branxton
1.20pm: Reserve grade – Murrurundi Mavericks v Greta Branxton Colts
3pm: First grade – Muswellbrook Rams v Denman Devils
LEADING THE CHARGE: Muswellbrook Rams first grader Daley Boney and under-18 player Rohan Pottiner (right) flank Ramette Sarah Hope on the eve of the Group 21 play-offs.
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