Warriors primed for semi showdown with Cowboys
RUGBY LEAGUE: Wattles Warriors co-skipper and seasoned forward Dale Perkins returns to the fold on Sunday after a month-long injury lay-off, running on against the Warwick Cowboys in the opening round of the 2019 Toowoomba Rugby League Hutchies Cup finals series.
The Warriors' campaign took a dive last weekend when they ventured to Goondiwindi for their final season fixture, only to finish behind the Boars 22-12 in what was a costly loss to the then-ladder leaders.
A win over Goondiwindi would have assured Wattles a second consecutive TRL A-grade minor premiership and a weekend spell for the first finals round.
With Valleys emerging minor premiers with a one-point advantage,Wattles now meet the third-placed Cowboys in Sunday's qualifying semi-final at Clive Berghofer Stadium, a vital match to both combatants heading towards the grand final on September 8.
The Southern Downs derby in the Garden City pits traditional foes against each other in what will be a mighty contest for the right to take on Valleys next weekend for a grand-final berth.
Both line-ups are at full strength and include three of the TRL's top five players in Wattles halves Matt Duggan and Travis Burns, along with Warwick's Ben Sullivan among those to run on.
The season progress sheet has the two teams having won a fixture each, the Cowboys taking the honours in the opening round 22-18, Wattles responding with a 42-6 victory in June.
Wattles player/coach Travis Burns has had his team focusing on season goals this week after losing their way against the Boars.
"We are back on track and ready to make the necessary impression,” Burns said.
Against Goondiwindi the Warriors were without classy centre Jake Hargreaves and team captain Ryan Duggan, both of whom will line up on Sunday.
"We've got our strongest side running on against the Cowboys, it'll be one of the toughest games of the season for us but it's a must-win game.”
Wattles had six consecutive club scalps prior to the Boars loss, the defence playing a decisive role in its success. Burns feels that same level of defence will lay the foundation for his side roping the Cowboys.
Wattles boasts a well balanced outfit centred on halves Burns and Matt Duggan, their forwards with size, aggression and mobility and backs with speed.
Nothing is more certain though than the crowd getting its dollars' worth watching the clash from 2.30pm Sunday.