THE MOREE Boars will host their first game of Group 19 on Sunday when Ashford makes the trip west to Broughton Oval.
Following tough first- round losses, both sides will be hungry to get that first win and points on the table.
Boars coach Wayne Hetherington wants to get his home season off on the right foot.
He saw enough positives in last week’s opening-round 38-18 loss in Glen Innes to make him think his young side is ready for a win.
The Boars were overpowered by a bigger Magpies pack, although pulled together in the second half to score some tries.
“We had no ball in the first half,” Hetherington said.
“When we got the ball we looked good and put some points on.”
Moree will miss the experience, and ball-carrying, of captain Matt Marshall, who is still out for a couple of weeks with a knee injury.
Lock Adam Rodilossi impressed Hetherington last week with a lot of tackling, and the tough coach expects the same this week.
Hetherington is looking to his dangerous centres and outside backs to bust the line and cause some problems.
“Sam Armstrong made big inroads through the defence last week and will do it again,” Hetherington said.
“And Ben Williams is a very good hole runner.”
Williams is stand-in captain until Marshall is back, and both centres worked well with fullback Joey Henderson to create some opportunities at Mead Park.
Ashford will not be going at full strength and will likely miss the creativity of hooker Mark Lewis who may have concussion.
Lock Lachie McDonald is out with a knee injury and second-rower and captain Jock Gleeson is also in doubt.
Coach Mick Lewis said the pack was knocked around a bit in the 34-10 loss to Tingha.
The Tigers will relish having Graham “Buster” Chard joining the team this week.
Chard is a former Glen Innes Magpie and is a great pick-up for the Tigers pack.
“Last week’s score didn’t really reflect the game,” Lewis said.
“We missed a lot of opportunities and probably dropped three tries.”
Ashford has a lot more attacking power than last year, as well as that extra year’s experience.
“Kerod Sampson and Mark Lewis were creating a lot of holes,” Lewis said.
Another new recruit is former Highlander Richard Murphy who was also opening Tingha up in the halves a couple of times.