Turtles red hot to trot
THE unbeaten Turtles will be one of the shortest-priced favourites in Bundaberg sporting history when they line up against West Barbarians in The Waves Spring Cup grand final at ATW Sports Complex tonight.
They have won all of their 24 games since reforming for the start of last season, picking up the tabs from the now defunct East Coast Buccaneers, and they have been rarely challenged in their title defence, including beating Barbarians in all four clashes this campaign.
Two of those games were close, but they were ruthless in a 53-7 massacre when they last met a fortnight ago, although while their master player/coach Rob Darney is quietly confident, he is taking nothing for granted.
"We are all good to go and we are ready to rock and roll - we had good numbers for our final training session (on Wednesday night) and it is a matter of doing the job on the night," Darney said.
"But I think it will be a tight game - they always give us a tight final and the last seven times we have played them in a final (previously as Buccaneers), they have always been within seven points.
"There is certainly no complacency in a final - grand finals are hard football and hard to play in and the team will go out with the task at hand and play what is in front of us."
Darney rates their team which beat Fraser Coast Mariners in the decider as "better" than their current side, but on form, Barbarians are not in the same league as Mariners either.
"Also this team seems more fluent and cohesive when it comes to running with the ball," he said.
They are led by the "little master" Luke Cummins, who is a tactical genius and still one of the best players in Queensland Country, and they have match winners right across the park.
Their other trumps include Queensland Rangers rugby league star Mat Templeman, another big match player who tormented Mariners in last year's final, and Joel Turaga, who is coming off a four-try haul in last week's 61-13 demolition of Alloway Falcons.
But Darney admits Cummins holds the key.
"Luke has been in great form all year - he is also very fit and so are a lot of our leaguies - they have carried over and maintained their match fitness and brought that extra attacking ability to the game," he said.
"Joel Turaga, Mat Templeman and Quade McGrory have brilliant games with their attacking runs, especially Turaga - he runs straight and is very hard to tackle.
"I think West's strength is their forwards - in the scrum, rucks and mauls and in the line-out - our strength is our backs so that makes it interesting and the result is unknown at this stage but I am confident."
The match kicks off at 7pm.