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Northern derby a test for the forwards

A battle of the forwards will decide this weekend’s Round 3 clash between Mackay Cutters and the Northern Pride in the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition.

The Cutters and Pride both utilised their home ground advantages in their opening matches, with Mackay scoring a 64-0 win over Townsville Blackhawks in Round 1; while the Pride edged out the Blackhawks 22-20 in Round 2. 

Cutters coach Marco Peters said his side's dominant victory would not allow them to be complacent in the lead up to this weekend, calling for improvements around the ruck and with their line speed.

Mackay Cutters Harvey Norman Under 19 team in action. Photo: Marty Strecker Photography
Mackay Cutters Harvey Norman Under 19 team in action. Photo: Marty Strecker Photography

“The 64-0 score line in the first game is something we’ve put to the side now,” Peters said.

“It’s definitely a different ball game again this weekend.

"Northern Pride are coming off a good win, and they’ve got some quality players, so we’re definitely not resting on our laurels at all.”

Pride coach Albert Anderson said his middle third were excellent in Round 2, but he wanted his halves to step up against the Cutters.

“Our forwards really set the platform and I thought our defence was outstanding. The girls only missed about five tackles,” Anderson said.

“We are looking for our halves to identify the momentum our middles are gaining and then get off the back of that on our edges.”

With a major focus placed on the week-to-week development of the players, Anderson recognised key areas where this weekend’s battle would be be won and lost.

“I think it’s going to be more footy sense and game sense that will win it for us this time,” Anderson said.

“They’ve got a very good No.7 in Emily Bella [who’s] a very smart footballer and very strong, so we’re not really looking to go down her edge as a half, maybe get at their five-eighth with our big forwards and go from there.”

'What a weapon!' - Emily Bella

Anderson also identified Brooke Tongalea, Etunia Suavai, and Angela Barley as players to watch for the Pride.

Peters said his slick backline would not be able to dominate as they did in Round 1 unless the team's forwards combated the Pride’s big pack in the middle.

“Vanique Malayta had a great game on the weekend and she’s our vice-captain, she will need to step up [and] Zoe Cook was unbelievable the first game and in our trial games, so she’s definitely one to watch out for,” Peters said.

The Cutters and Pride Round 3 game will begin this Saturday 4.20pm at Jack Manski Oval in Townsville.

All other teams have a bye in Round 3.