8th September 2011, 08:31
Cougars begin 2011 play-off journey
Valley Cougars will begin their Conference National play-off journey b
Valley Cougars will begin their Conference National play-off journey by travelling to Hemel this Sunday.
The Cougars - who qualified for the end of season deciders in their first season in the Conference National - take on the Stags who finished the season in fourth.
In addition to home advantage, Hemel can boast two league victories over their Welsh counterparts but Cougars captain Paul Emanuelli insists that will count for nothing when the play-offs get underway this weekend.
"It's fantastic for the club to have made the play-offs but we don't want to take our foot off the gas just yet," he said.
"The play-offs are a one-off game, and in a straight shoot-out I fancy our chances against pretty much anyone in this division.
"There's no escaping the fact that Hemel have beaten us twice in the league, but I could honestly say that both were sub-par performances on our part."
Emanuelli can draw on his own experiences as a testament. As a Crusaders Colts player in 2008, the stand-off was part of a squad that had lost to Bramley Buffaloes on three occasions before winning the Grand Final against the same opposition.
"Bramley at the time were a very good outfit, and it felt like we just couldn't beat them. It took a huge effort to finally overcome them, but that's what's needed in the play-offs, and I'm sure it'll be the same for the Cougars this weekend.
"We're going into them [the play-offs] on a high after a tremendous win in Coventry, and we're looking to keep building on that. We just want to go as far as we can."
Having finished fifth in the table, the Cougars may have to overcome three consecutive away games in order to reach the Grand Final on October 2 but that simply drew a smirk from Emanuelli.
"In all honesty, we've been better away from home in recent weeks.
"And, after a tricky start, we've proven that we have the mentality to go away and win now. We had a similar run during the season where we went to Warrington, Nottingham and Dewsbury on the bounce, and came away with victories each time.
"So it's up to us to take that mindset into the play-offs with us."