Brothers ready for Easts in major

RUGBY LEAGUE: Despite having not played for three weeks, Brothers captain Cameron Ricciardi has declared they are “ready to go” for the 4BU/Hitz FM A Grade Premiership major semi-final on Saturday.
They will take on arch-rivals Easts at Salter Oval, chasing direct passage to the grand final.
After receiving a last-round forfeit, then having last weekend off as minor premiers, the Brethren have not played since outgunning Wests on July 30, while the Magpies are fresh from a come-from-behind 28-18 qualifying final victory over Wests Panthers.
Brothers were further buoyed with their star centres Shaun Collins and Matt Templeman taking out the Bundaberg A Grade and Representative Players of the Year awards on Wednesday night, and Ricciardi said they were “looking good”.
“We should be pretty close to full strength for the first time – the only doubt is Matt Hall with his ankle – it is still suspect but we’ll see how pulls up after training (last) night,” Ricciardi said.
“Three weeks is a long time and we don’t know yet how that will affect us but we’ve trained pretty hard and put miles in our legs, and hopefully it hasn’t affected us too much and hopefully everyone stays focused on the job at hand.
“There is nothing like playing than this time off, and Easts finished off pretty well last week and their fitness is obviously up there with the best of them – they are a pretty fit side.”
Despite coming from fourth to win the title last year, Ricciardi said it was always a bonus to win the major semi-final and have a week off leading into the decider, and he is not overly concerned about regularly conceding soft tries throughout the season.
“Our defence is not too bad – we had the best for and against by about 300 points and we can score, and we’ll play how we have been playing all year but hopefully just lift the intensity for these big games,” he said.
“They’ve got some very good players and I thought the Bay played well last week too and any of the three other teams, on their day, can do it, so it’s important to win this one and get confidence into the team against the next best at the moment and take everyone else’s confidence away and lead into the final.”
The Panthers will get their second chance when they on Hervey Bay in the minor semi-final, with the Seagulls flying high after finally putting it all together to trounce the higher placed Isis 48-16 in the elimination final.
Brothers will also contest the League 11’s and women’s major semi-finals, both against Hervey Bay, who will also meet Easts in the under-18 major semi.
Easts will also contest the League 11’s and women’s minor semi-finals against Wests and Cherbourg respectively, while the U-18 minor match will bring together Wests and Across The Waves in another great duel.

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