SECURING the minor premiership in the Newcastle Hunter Rugby League Northern Conference will be the immediate goal for the Gloucester Magpies, according to coach Anthony 'Rambo' Alladice.
There are three scheduled games and possibly a deferred fixture to play before the playoffs. Last Saturday's game against fellow competition heavyweight Stroud Clarence Town was postponed due to the weather.
Allardice said no date has yet been set for when this match will be played.
He took over the coaching reins this year. It's his first appointment at senior level.
The Magpies have enjoyed what Alladice described as an 'awesome' season. They sit on top of the ladder with 20 points and have nine wins from 10 games and are two points clear of Stroud and Dungog. The only hiccup was a 38-22 defeat by Stroud Clarence Town.
"We dropped a lot of ball that day,'' Allardice said.
His son, Darcy, is the team's five-eighth and this was one of the reasons he took on the coaching position.
"I thought it would be good to coach the young bloke,'' he explained.
A tough lock forward, Alladice was a key member of strong Gloucester sides that played in the Group Three Saturday League in the 1980s and 1990s.
"I'm big on camaraderie and that's something I wanted to instill into the side this year,'' he said.
"I want it like the days when 'Doylie' (Bob Doyle) was coaching here. We all got on and it was great to be involved with the club.''
He said hard working lock Riley Collins is the 'heart and soul of the side' who always turns in an 80 minute performance.
A couple of experienced players, including Andrew Middlebrook returned this year and have added a bit of stability to the side.
Centre Johnny Cornelius is the leading try scorer in the competition with 12, while Darcy Alladice is second on the list of point scorers with 96.
Alladice has a squad of 25 to choose from and he admits ensuring all the players get adequate game time can be a problem.
"We can only have six on the bench. But even so, it's a good problem to have, it's much better than having to chase numbers,'' Alladice agreed.
Gloucester has a proud rugby league tradition and Alladice said the support from the town has been exceptional, especially for home games.
"People stop you in the street and want to have a yarn about the football,'' he said.
"Junior league's started here again and we have three teams playing. There's a good vibe around the place.''
He hopes utility player Tom Middlebrook will be available as soon as this week and this will be a further plus for the side. Middlebrook can cover a number of positions.
"Tom hasn't had the time because of work commitments, but he's been training,'' the coach explained.
While they lost to Stroud, Alladice thinks Dungog are the team to beat for major honours, The Magpies will meet the Warriors at Gloucester on Saturday, July 30. Gloucester won the first round encounter 32-30.
Alladice said it's been a great year, but this will amount to nought if the Magpies don't produce in the major games at the end of the season. He'll looking forward to the challenge.
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