It’s all or nothing: Heelers

IT’S what local rugby dreams are made of.

Tomorrow, at Highbrook Park, neighbouring clubs Muswellbrook Heelers and Singleton Bulls go head-to head in not one, but two, major semi-finals.

The fierce arch rivals meet in the first and second grade encounters, with the winners moving through to the 2014 deciders in a fortnight’s time.

As a sidebar, the Wanderers and Cessnock face off in an 11.50am Hunter Cup curtain-raiser.

“We are proud that we’ve been selected to host the major semi,” Heelers president Tim Pike said.

“And, having three games of rugby, it does not get much better.

“I invite everyone up to Highbrook Park tomorrow to cheer on the Heelers.

“The canteen and the bar in the clubhouse will be opened.”

Muswellbrook’s first grade outfit finished the season in top spot, defending its 2013 minor premiership, while the seconds were just behind Singleton on the ladder.

“Unfortunately, due to a couple of forfeits at the end of the year, we were robbed of the chance to get the club championship,” Pike said.

“Both clubs have been very competitive this season with only a few points separating them.”

Going into tomorrow’s feature clash, Muswellbrook and Singleton share the spoils with each boasting two triumphs.

However, in the last outing, the Bulls prevailed.

“This was only after the Heelers gave away too many penalties and had players sent to the sin bin,” Pike explained.

“We’ll have to get our discipline under control if we’re to not only win but move straight into the grand final.

“The lead-up to the semi hasn’t been ideal either.

“Our last game was forfeited, giving the first grade team only one match in the past three weeks.”

Pike is confident some handy reinforcements will boost the Heelers.

“The return of hard-hitting Isaac Scholes to the forwards, after a stint overseas, will strengthen the pack,” he said.

“He’ll be ably supported by his brother Caleb and Matt Gallagher.

“Allan Johnson, at halfback, will lead the backline which is full of fast runners and finishers such as Lewyn Rapana and Pana Ravouvou.

“This will be a good, entraining game.”

Pike expects to witness another close encounter in second grade.

“We’ll have to produce our best form as Singleton has one extra win on us,” he told the Chronicle.

“The Bulls boast an older and experienced pack, so Heelers’ players like Scotty Almond and Alex Whylie will need to contain their forwards.

“Pat Kirkwood, playing arguably his best rugby, should dominate at the breakdown.

“We’ll also be relying on Edwin McTaggart, who has scored tries in his past three games.

“If Muswellbrook can get a fair share of ball, and get it to the backline, that is where we can win the match.

“Ethan Cridland and his brother Nathan have both shown a clean pair of heels on their way to the tryline this season.”

BIG OCCASION: Muswellbrook Rugby Club president Tim Pike (second from right) with Heelers, from left, Ben Hoffman, Brad Smith and Will Harvey, who are primed for tomorrow’s major semi-final at Highbrook Park.

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