Conference Rivals face off for the third time this season!
Although it has already happened during this playoff run, to happen in the Northern final shows the strength of the 1A North Western this year.
Despite Hallam having already bested Carnegie twice this year, largely thanks to their strong link up between star QB ‘Dutch’ Stevenson and big-bodied wideout Ronel Daley-Thompson, the Warriors have also been proven to have some vulnerabilities – they dropped a game to the UCLan Rams (which could have easily been both games had refereeing decision gone the Rams way). Whilst Hallam would dominate the Rams when it mattered most, come the postseason, it’s interesting to note that Carnegie had far fewer problems than Sheffield in defeating the Rams in their two games during the regular season.
Both teams have already defeated other conference champs in the shape of Hull and Nottingham. The Warriors found ways to simply keep on scoring against the high flying Hull Sharks, outpacing the Northern Champs in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile the other semi-final game down to a nail biting overtime win where Carnegie’s all or nothing two point conversion play finally ended the game in what is likely the biggest postseason upset of the season so far
Have Carnegie’s offence clicked at just the right time? Will Hallam’s big play ability carry them through?
We caught up with Hallam HC, Richard Batty, and Carnegie Chairman and starting centre, Chris Jones, this week to try and gain their insight into the big match up this weekend.
Firstly speaking with Hallam’s Coach Batty –
DC: what do you feel has been the key to success for the Warriors this season?
RB: the key to any success is hard work and a game plan. Both sides of the ball. having a plan that focuses on your strengths and mitigates your weaknesses. We believe we are fairly balanced on offence and have a mixture of speed and strength on defence. We are pretty functional on defence and just work hard within a scheme. Offensively we focus on a balance between the run and pass and utilise the very good weapons we have.
DC: are there any stand out players from this season?
RB: It’s easy to name drop but I won’t. No one or two players is why we are here. Its the squad.
DC: What are you expecting heading into the Northern Final?
RB: Going into the game we expect to face a run heavy offence and a hard working defence. We doubt Carnegie will throw the ball much if at all. We expect a fight in the trenches and a hard grind. Hopefully we can execute our own game plan on offence and make sure we ask questions of the Carnegie defence.
DC: is there anything in particular you are looking at from the Carnegie side?
RB: We won’t watch out for anything from our opponent. They need to beat us as much as we need to beat them. Ive always believed in focusing on a plan that puts you in a position to succeed and not worry what your opponent may or may not do to surprise you.
Speaking with Carnegie Chairman Chris Jones he had the following to say –
DC: what do you feel has been the key to success for your Carnegie team this year?
CJ: All the team becoming a tight unit and working for each other and players stepping in vital roles to help the team win on this 5 game stretch.
DC: Has there been any stand out players for the team this year?
CJ: Every player and coach has stepped up and been a part of this journey this year.
DC: What do you expect going into the match up?
CJ: A tough physical match up where the game could go down to the wire like our last two playoff games.
DC: what are you expecting to see from the Hallam side?
CJ: From a general point of view, we are looking to slow down that high octane spread offence with key third down stops and turnovers. On offence we’re looking to try to find holes to exploit just like every other team would be looking for.
Thank you to both Coach Batty and Chairman Jones for their time.
Evidently both teams are staying fairly tight lipped about the upcoming game, however both know a lot about each other having played twice already this year and hours upon hours of game film that we’re sure both teams have been combing over for the last week to try and find where to exploit each other.
So what did #TeamDC think when asked to pick this fixture?
Surely, considering the two comfortable Hallam wins during the regular season we’re doing to see a whitewash for the Warriors?
Or has Carnegie’s underdog wins so far this postseason won around some of our Pundits?