Game 100 for Merewether captain Mick Gill

MEREWETHER captain Mick Gill is not big on maths.
Nanjing Night Net

He joined the Greens in 2008 and approaching this season guessed he would be closing in on 100 games.

‘‘I asked at the start of the year where I was at and got confirmation that is was 82,’’ Gill said.

It didn’t take a great deal of arithmetic for the centre turned breakaway and now hooker to look at the draw and circle round 18.

Wanderers at Townson Oval almost jumped off the page. He couldn’t have scripted it better.

‘‘I was pretty stoked when I realised it Wanderers,’’ he said.

‘‘We have had some classic battles and it’s a game that you always lift for.’’

Gill also didn’t require a calculator to work out that the winner today will claim third place and a second chance in the semi-finals.

Maitland made the grand final from fourth in 2010 and Uni did likewise in 2008, but no team has won the premiership from outside the top three in recent memory.

‘‘It is my 100th game but the big thing is that top three, and both sides will be chasing that hard,’’ Gill said.

‘‘It gives you that week up your sleeve, which is handy as history has shown.’’

With Mitch Steele, Mark Wade, Keith Barlow and Adam Nolan returning, the Greens will field their strongest line-up of the campaign.

‘‘We always thought if we could get everyone back on deck we would give it a good shake,’’ Gill said.

‘‘It is a good time to be at full strength, coming into the finals.

‘‘We have to get the job done tomorrow. That’s first and foremost.’’

Merewether came back from 21-0 down and then hung on desperately at the death to trump Wanderers 26-24 in their first encounter at No.2 Sportsground in round nine – a match in which the home side turned down three penalty shots directly in front.

The triumph was the Greens’ seventh straight over their fierce rivals since the epic 2009 grand final, which the Two Blues won 21-20 in extra time.

Gill played down the record and doubted that it gave them a mental edge.

‘‘It is just the way it has panned out,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t think there is too much behind it.

‘‘If they take three points [from a penalty] in round nine, we aren’t talking about the record.

‘‘There have been some close games which they could probably look upon and say ‘if we did a few things different we could have walked away with a win’.’’

Merewether have won five of the past six, with the loss being a 29-17 defeat at home to premiers Hamilton three weeks ago.

‘‘Every time you lose you look at things,’’ Gill said.

‘‘ We went back to the drawing board.

‘‘I was playing five-eighth and I think those days are behind me, and we had a few injuries as well.

‘‘We did learn a few things and have worked on it.

‘‘The last couple of weeks we focused on us and how we want to play in the back end of the year.’’

Wanderers have made four changes, one forced, from the 30-7 loss to The Waratahs – a defeat that cost them third place. Luke Gibson comes in for Blair Rush (shoulder) at lock, while Vilai Kelemete and Corey Te Koeti add grunt to the back row.

The backline has also been reshuffled. Tapaki Rahui moves to fly-half, Luke Menchin shifts to outside centre and Lewie Catt to the wing.

Mick Gill hopes to celebrate his milestone game with a win over arch rivals Wanderers. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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