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We have to be aggressive against big teams like Warrington - Laffranchi
SAINTS’ win at the Halliwell Jones a fortnight ago was built on a mighty effort from the forwards.
Rarely has a primrose and blue pack featuring Messrs Morley, Carvell and Waterhouse been left to leave the field with their tails between their legs after being tamed by the men in the red vee.
That team – emboldened by the return of the big Bens Westwood and Harrison will not spend that much time licking their wounds – and so another bone-crunching battle royale will be on the cards.
Once again, from the first whistle, it will be a head on collision, with the battle for feet and inches in the middle holding the key to victory.
Saints prop Anthony Laffranchi – a veteran of two Grand Finals in the NRL – knows exactly what sort of game to expect on Saturday evening if he is to stand a chance of joining that elite band of people with rings from either hemisphere.
Laffranchi said: “It is a massive game against Warrington and we are 80 minutes from a Grand Final.
“We had been taught a lesson last time they played us here where their forwards dominated us and started hard and battered us a fair bit.
“That stung us, just like last time will have stung them.
“Defence wins big games and you have to be aggressive against quality teams like Warrington. It is going to go up another level intensity wise and defensively we are going to have to be even more sound.
“Everyone is going to throw everything at each other and I think that completion will play a big part of it.
“The first team that settles down and gets into their rhythm early will probably be the one that gets the result at the end of the game.
“The first ten minutes of the game here in August they were 14 nil up. If they get on the front foot they get a roll on and build confidence and then start playing their offload rugby and we are playing catch up.
“Warrington thrive a lot on their forward pack a lot and rely on them some go forward and bring offloads and that puts Richie Myler, Lee Briers and Brett Hodgson on the front foot and get it to the strike out wide.
“It is all about the packs matching each other and getting the dominance over the other pack.”
Remarkably, despite doubts early on, it is once again the same big four in the play-off semi final. Although it was deemed a two horse race between the two Ws in July, it will be a brave man to tip the finalists out of the last four.
A seasoned Australian test player, Laffranchi will be lining up against one of the players he won his Grand Final ring with at Wests Tigers in 2005 – dangerman Brett Hodgson.
“I get along with Hodgo. It is hard to turn away from a friendship you build over time. We were at Tigers together and when you win a comp together – with a young team – you tend to build a bond between each player.
“Hodgo is a great mate of mine and has had a fantastic year and one of their strike weapons if not their main one.
“I am always fascinated by the way Hodgo gets into tackles and the out of them and has that ability to push through the line. He is a quality player, but hopefully he will have a bad night on Saturday,” said Laffranchi.