The Stoke Cobras were just one minute away from missing out on its third TRL finals appearance in as many years.
Super Cheap Auto Stoke Cobras were down 11-10 with the clock counting down at a rain-soaked Lower Ngawhatu on Saturday when the side was awarded a penalty. The kick was successful and the 12-11 victory was enough to send the Sims Pacific Metals Tahuna Tigers out and the Stoke Cobras through to the biggest stage.
Usually the benchmark of the competition, Stoke will head into Saturday’s Smokefree Bin Inn Cup final as underdogs. Minor premiers Stables Richmond Rabbits booked its place into the final courtesy of a 20-12 win over Malbas Bar Wanderers Wolves. Stoke player/coach Troy Wilson says the side is confident but also praised the professionalism of its opponents ahead of Saturday’s clash. “There isn’t any reason we can’t beat them as long as we play without any errors and with heaps of discipline,” says Troy. “It was no surprise to me that the Rabbits are where they are. They’re so professional and it’s something we can aspire to.”
Troy has identified some targets in the Rabbits side but admits they are a team without any weaknesses. “Against the Tigers we targeted a couple of players, tried to put a lot of pressure on them and it came off. Hopefully we can do that again this Saturday.”
He predicts the game will be won by the most clinical side and the Cobras were prepared to play to the basics if it meant winning its third championship in a row.
The Smokefree Bin Inn Cup Grand Final is being held at Trafalgar Park this Saturday. Entry is by gold coin donation. Kick-off is at 2:30pm, following the Simon Mannering Cup curtain raiser which begins at 1pm. The event is alcohol and smoke free.