Mittagong Lions to face Narellan Jets at home

Back at home this weekend, the Mittagong Lions senior teams face a touch challenge when they take on Narellan Jets.

Reserve grade will be looking to keep top spot on the ladder after a good win against Oran Park two weeks ago.

Coach Billy Hayward said discipline and completion rate would be the focus for Mittagong after Narellan kept Thirlmere scoreless in its last match before the break.

“They will be coming into the game confident that their defence and structure is in a great place at the moment and coming down to us to try cause an upset victory,” he said.

“Narellan will be desperate for the win as two points no matter where you’re sitting on the ladder at the moment can mean the difference of holding your place on the ladder or dropping two or three spots which could be crucial come the back end of the season.”

But while Narellan will prove to be a dangerous opponent, Hayward said the Lions needed to focus on their on game and what they could control in the match.

“We are accountable for everything we do and to come away with this result on Sunday we will need to work hard from start to finish and play two consistent halves of  good tough physical footy.”

Over the past few weeks, the Lions forward pack has led the way and Hayward said Jordan Powell had been dangerous around the ruck with Ian Kwok and Simon Reid “doing the hard yards” to set a platform for the backs.

He also praised Ben Murchie’s leadership over the past few months with his experience helping to develop the younger members of the side.

“Watch out for Byron Pinkerton Geoff McKeown and Ben Powell to be doing some damage on those edges if any opportunity arises.”

It will also be a massive challenge for the Ladies League Tag team, with Mittagong up against the second place side.

Team manager Bill Adrian said after a week off, the Lions would need to make sure their defence was solid.

“Narellan are a very strong team so they will test our defence. It’s [the match] important to us because it will show us where we stand on the ladder.”

As well as a strong defensive performance, Adrian said Mittagong needed to work the ball out of their own half.

“Otherwise we'll play the whole game in our own half.

Lions captain Rhiannon O'Neil has been consistently strong this year and Adrian said she along with Emma Young-Whitford with lots of talk, Alyssa Kirkland who has provided quality ball from dummy half and Madison Smith will need to step up again for Sunday’s match. 

For the first grade Lions, it will be all about putting in an 80 minute performance. 

Coach Dan Beardshaw said his side had been close all year and hoped it would all click in this Sunday’s match.

“I know Narellan will be up for the game and will be looking to put together a huge performance down here at our ground this week,” he said.

“[We just need to focus] on what we are capable of- taking each section of the game as it comes and just focusing on each of our own games.”

Beardshaw said , Jayden Valenzisi has been a standout for Mittagong this year and he had also been impressed with Aaron Sweeney and Brown in the past few games.

The ladies League Tag will be the first match of the day with kick off at 10.30am.

They will be followed by the under-18s at 11.30am, reserve grade at 1pm and first grade at 2.30pm.

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