Southern Districts coach Matt Barr says his side’s second half performance against Randwick on Saturday was one of the best he’s been involved in as head coach.
“It was similar to last year when we were down at half time against Uni and had a lot of work to do. I was confident that if we could control the ball, the points were there because we had a lot of opportunities in the first half and didn’t convert,” Barr said.
“Thankfully we held onto the ball in the second half and made the most of our opportunities, so I was really pleased. It was great to be a part of.”
With a huge wind behind them, Southern Districts were unable to capitalise, despite dominating possession and territory in the first half and went to the break down 12-5 against a Super Rugby stacked Randwick side.
“The effort was certainly there but we just lacked a bit of composure and that happens when you’ve got guys trying hard to create opportunities.
“At half time we weren’t negative, we just knew we needed to limit Randwick’s chances in the second half and we managed to do that,” the coach said.
“We knew it was going to be a grind and it took a while, but we were confident that we’d be able to get some front footy ball through our midfield and on the back of our scrum and eventually in that second half we got on top.”
Inside centre Apo Latunipulu was brilliant and scored twice after the break, but Barr told Rugby News he thought flyhalf Rohan Saifoloi and centre Denny Godinet were just as good.
“Over a number of years, we’ve watched our 10,12,13 combination develop and that really shone through on Saturday. We haven’t really had that combination this year through injuries, but I think everyone saw how effective it can be.”
With Waratahs stars Andrew Kellaway, Dave Horwitz and Reece Robinson in the Randwick backline and former Wallabies Adam Freier and Stephen Hoiles in the forwards, Barr said the victory would give his side a great deal of confidence heading into this weekend’s preliminary final.
“Both the playing and coaching group said after the match, a champion team beats a team of champions and we proved that,” he said.
“The playing group is very close, they often refer to one another as brothers and it does feel like a family because we’ve all been together for a number of years and I think that was a telling factor in the end result.”
On the back of that performance, Barr said he thought a handful of his players were ready to play representative rugby.
“I think it proves what a few of us have been saying for quite some time. A number of our guys are worthy of an opportunity at the next level but for some reason, they aren’t given one.
“I really hope they do get an opportunity because I’ve got no doubt that they are good enough.”
The Rebels host Northern Suburbs on Sunday in the second preliminary final at Forshaw Rugby Park. The Shoreman continued their unbeaten run with a 25-22 victory over Warringah at North Sydney Oval on Sunday.
“Norths are obviously full of confidence and are the form team of the competition with 11 straight wins so they will be really hard to beat. We need to make sure we repeat that effort and commitment and tidy a few things up from last weekend,” Barr said.
“Every game now becomes more important so we can’t afford to drift in and out of games. Norths are very dangerous with the ball and defend very well so we will need to limit their opportunities and then take ours like we did against Randwick.”
This article, Intrust Shute Shield: Southern Districts coach credits brave second half performance, first appeared on Rugby News.