Eagles gear up to take on the Orange Emus in a prelim

Garrizo Gonzalo will be key to Cowra's chances against the Orange Emus this weekend. Photo: Ben Rodin
Garrizo Gonzalo will be key to Cowra's chances against the Orange Emus this weekend. Photo: Ben Rodin

Despite finding their best footy in Sunday's win against the Forbes Platypi, co-coach Col Kilby says his team must improve further ahead of Saturday's preliminary final against the Orange Emus.

The Eagles obliterated the Platypi in the second half, putting up 27 points to 7 (Final score: 37-13) to comfortably secure a place in the afternoon fixture at Endeavour Oval, but it was the first half that gave Kilby and Col Jeffs some pause.

"I think the first half on the weekend, our kicking choice and execution was poor, and we gifted Forbes a lot of field position and kept them in the game," Kilby said.

While rectifying field position is one aspect the Eagles are working on ahead of Saturday's game, Kilby admitted there were other ways to make sure his team keep on the front foot against last year's premiers.

"[We'll] just look to increase our support play so we can take full advantage of any breaks or half breaks that we make."

Importantly though, the Eagles have pulled up from the game well, with the same squad from last week's match available for this weekend.


Cowra's first-grade skipper, Tim Berry (left), will lead the Eagles in this Saturday afternoon's preliminary final against last year's premiers, the Orange Emus, at Endeavour Oval. Photo: Ben Rodin

Cowra's first-grade skipper, Tim Berry (left), will lead the Eagles in this Saturday afternoon's preliminary final against last year's premiers, the Orange Emus, at Endeavour Oval. Photo: Ben Rodin

"The most pleasing part is that we've got the same squad available, which is the first time in a long time [that's happened]," Kilby said, noting that while improvement was needed there were also plenty of positives from Sunday's win.

"Our defence, especially on our line, was probably the best it's been all year, we only let that one try in, which was very pleasing," the co-coach said.

"And we did create a lot of space and opportunities in that second half which mostly we took advantage of."

While the aforementioned consistency in squad numbers is pleasing for Kilby and Jeffs, a perhaps underestimated aspect of Cowra's performance on the weekend was its ability to draw from the depth of its bench.

"Backs and forwards, we've got solid players that are there and more than capable, most of them are good enough to be in the starting side," Kilby said.

"It's been a bit of a weight off myself and Col Jeffs' shoulders... that we now know that we've got that depth and know that we've got the experience of those players that know how we want to play the game."

While there is confidence in the Cowra camp about their chances this weekend, Kilby is reluctant to read too much into the unavailability of the Emus' Nigel Staniforth, who has succumbed to a knee injury and hasn't been named in this week's starting 15.

"Obviously, [he was] pushing against the clock to see whether he was going to get through," Kilby observed.

"They'll obviously have other players that can step into those roles, which possibly makes it a little bit more challenging, in the fact that you know when he's playing, that they are going to control the game around him.

"We'll just look again to try and control what we can which will be our tempo, where we want to play the game and obviously keep our defence solid... then we just have to play what's in front of us."

While the Emus are missing Staniforth, the coach didn't shy away from the fact his side will need to embrace the challenge of playing in front of an away crowd against an historically strong side after playing their last game of the year at home against Forbes.

"They've proven year-in, year out their strength at this time of the year and their experience: They're solid across the park," Kilby said.

"You enjoy and feed off your home crowd when you get a big lot of support there; you've gotta take the heckling and whatever else comes from the opposition crowd and use that as well to feed off."

After a year with challenges on and off the field though, Kilby believes his group is galvanized, and ready to claim the potential rewards on offer this Saturday afternoon.

"[A grand final] is something the club's been missing out on for as long as I've got a memory, and I think in this zone we haven't made a grand final," Kilby said.

"To be able to come together and build as we have done at the back end of the season and now push through would be a great reward."

"The boys have worked really hard and I'm more than confident we've got a side that, if we turn up on Saturday, we can get the job done."

The Cowra Eagles will take on the Emus from 3.15pm this Saturday afternoon.

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