Only four teams remain, as the Direct Connect #DewarShield enters the Semi Final stage, with the Unicorns travelling to Melbourne Uni and Box Hill hosting Harlequin.
While the loser of the Box Hill and Harlequin match gets a second chance next week, that’s not the case for Melbourne Uni or Melbourne; lose this, and you’re out!
For the Students, it seems a little unfair; they finished the campaign with comfortably the best points differential, as a result of having the competition’s strongest defence, and were just two points off second placed Harlequin.
Uni defeated both of the top two sides once this season, however their shock loss to Footscray came back to haunt them and now they have to do battle with a Unicorns side who started 2015 slowly but have lost just twice since Round Six.
The Unicorns haven’t been able to beat Uni this year, with a 36-12 win to the Students last time they met at this venue, and then Uni winning 27-13 when visiting Melbourne back in Round Thirteen. Essentially, Melbourne need to find their way through a stoic Melbourne Uni defence which has conceded just fifteen points per game this season.
Melbourne Uni Head Coach Jason Jones said his side held their own destiny, though he was wary of Melbourne flyhalf Paul McConnichie who is one of just two players to score more than 100 points in the Dewar Shield this year.
“We are very satisfied with the way the regular season finished, off with a strong win against Minor Premiers Box Hill last weekend,” Jones said. “This weekend’s Semi against the Unicorns will be another tight but entertaining battle.
“The Unicorns play a very structured game based around their set piece, and we will have to be at our best to dominate in this area to give our rampant backs some good front foot ball to work with. They don’t have any glaring weakness; they are a very well drilled, efficient team who will punish you on turnover ball or penalties. They will knock the three points over all day so limiting infringements will be the key.
“In saying that, we are not too concerned about them; it’s about us this week. If we switch on and come out with the right attitude, we will be very hard to beat. We have to focus on the 80 minute performance, being clinical and really striving for repeat efforts by everyone across the team.”
Melbourne will be wary of Uni backline stars Taiso Silafai-Leaana and Josh Cocker-Valu, both members of the Melbourne Rising Extended Training Squad (ETS), as well as tryscoring prop Matthew Onesemo and Australian U20s front rower Fereti Sa’aga.
Both games will be live-tweeted via @MelbourneRebels on Saturday – Unicorns’ supporters don’t forget to use the #RoadToVictory
Source: Rebels Media Unit