RUGBY LEAGUE: Saints need the game of their lives
5:30am Saturday 16th August 2014 in By Tom Bassam, Chief sports writer
CARL Baker has said that his Swindon St George side need to play the game of their lives to win the West of England Premier League grand final against Gloucester Warriors today.
St George caused a huge upset as they won only their second game of the season having been given a eleventh-hour shot at the play-offs.
Bristol Sonics’ withdrawal from the post-season matched the Swindon side with the previously unbeaten Cheltenham Old Patesians and St George rose to challenge to slay the league’s minor champions.
That 42-36 victory in Cheltenham set up today’s grand final with Gloucester and has given the Greenbridge Road side belief they can emerge as the season’s biggest surprise package and take the West of England crown.
St George coach Baker is determined to not allow his players to get ahead of themselves following their shock win and knows the task ahead is a big one.
“We need a commitment from all 20 men putting on the shirt, everyone must play the game of their life and if they do, we’ll have a good chance of getting the win,” he said.
“We never expected to get there and now we’re there we’re making the most of it, the guys are in good spirit, a good place mentally, as far as positive attitude goes and we’ve got to make sure that our positive attitude doesn’t lead to complacency.
“You can see it in their eyes they want it, no one expected it, we were hoping to get a couple of wins (this season). You know when the wins you get come in the semi and hopefully the last one in the final no one will be going in with less than 100 per cent commitment.”
Baker refused to give away too many details about specific plans St George have for the Warriors, knowing they do as much research as he does before games. However the Aussie knows the game will be different not only to their victory last week but to their two previous defeats to Gloucester.
“There’s a very good history with Gloucester off the field and high level of respect, like us they do their research, so we’re largely unchanged. Position-wise there’s a couple of small amendments that could be advantageous against Gloucester but I don’t want to give too much away.
“We’ll try and do what we do, last week we played a very good team but like I said they’re more of a union team, Gloucester are more of a league side, hitting them through the centre will not work constantly, looking at trying to exploit the outer third of the field, that’s what we’re practicing, and we’ll see how it goes.
“Richard White has a lot of league knowledge and will be running the sideline for us, taking on the role of the coach, watching the game and advising guys what do when he puts them on the field.”
St George are hoping to take a large number of supporters down to Old Centralians RFC in Gloucester today (2.30pm).
The Advertiser will have full reaction from the final next week.