Ahead of Saturday's Bolton Cup Grand Final, we caught up with Melbourne Unicorns colts coach Steve Iakovidis to understand how his side is feeling going into the big dance.
The Unicorns finished the regular season on top of the ladder, with five wins from six starts. The result meant they were able to enjoy the Queens Birthday weekend off as Quins battled the Eagles for the right to face them in the Grand Final.
Rugby Victoria (RV): You just enjoyed the week off whilst Endeavour Hills and Quins did battle...do you think the break helped your team or would you have preferred another week playing together?
Steve Iakovidis (SI): I think the rest assisted our playing group. It allowed us another week to regroup for the Grand Final.
RV: What did you make of the Quins match on Saturday?
SI: It was a hard fought battle was had between two teams obviously throwing all at it.
RV: What were Quins biggest threats that you noted?
SI: Their forwards played well dominating the set pieces, particularly lineouts and the breakdown.
RV: Quins inflicted your only loss of the season so far...how has your team grown since that loss?
SI: We still have improvements to make, but in a short 2022 season, we have had to ensure our structures on defence and understanding of attacking patterns across the field are understood across the playing group.
I believe we have found that with the playing group and are ready for whatever Quins throw at us this Saturday.
RV: Which player in your side holds the key to success this weekend?
SI: Our captain Sam Larritt, playing at outside centre, is the backbone of our defence and leads by example.
RV: Who needs to fire in order for Unicorns to win?
SI: Our forwards need to lift, especially in set piece. Winning our own ball, stealing possession off Quins and dominating set piece is our key to success.
RV: What makes the Melbourne '22 colts team so special to work with?
SI: They have a strong “desire to learn” which is pleasing to see.
This often can be a difficult trait in young men but our 2022 Colts team has a strong desire in learning, understanding their opposition and strategies in the game.
RV: Which players do you see going on to have long and successful Dewar Shield careers?
SI: Given the shortfall in our player base across Grade Rugby in 2022, we have had many players plucked out of Colts to play in grade this year prior to the Colts season starting.
Notables have been Gus Farnan (lock) and Toby Fraser (Fly Half), both having played in 1st Grade this year.
I see Sam Larritt making an impact with several other players making any easy transition from Colts to Grade in the second half of this year.
The colts Grand Final will be livestreamed on the Rugby Victoria Facebook Page this Saturday at midday.