IT might be only the third round but it’s crunch time already for several sides as far as their hopes of making the top tier.
The top five sides after the first round of games will form the top tier, and for sides like Tamworth it’s imperative they start winning if they want to be up there.
The Magpies are none from two at the moment and know they can’t afford to drop too many more games, starting with Quirindi on Saturday.
“We picked three sides that we could lose to in the first round this season,” Magpies co-coach Ross Duncan said.
“They are the obvious three - Moree, Narrabri and Pirates.”
“We were hoping to snare one.”
They’ve got only one left – having played the Bulls and Pirates.
“We don’t have any more chances left now, no more warm ups,” Duncan said.
The Lions would be one they would be expecting to win, and need to, with Scone and the Blue Boars to follow.
The arrival of a few new faces and a few returning faces has strengthened the Magpies, but injuries and a few players missing have set them back a bit.
Skipper Rhys Duncan and new recruit Scott Rolls have both been early season casualties.
“We are building to something, but maybe not this season,” Duncan said.
That said, he believes there has been some “patches of good footy in there”.
“We’ve got to play with confidence,” he said after their last round loss to Pirates.
“Pirates have that built into their culture and the way they play after being so successful for so many years.”
“We need to play with that confidence and take that next step and back ourselves.”
“They have to realise that they can compete and are in a competition out there.”
After an ominous start with the opening kick-off going out on the full the Magpies got themselves well into the game.
“There were a lot of positives out of the game but we have got to stop turning off and letting soft tries in like that,” Duncan said.
And we must stop making simple errors like kicking out on the full.
They messed up two kick-offs and both times Pirates made them pay. The second gave Pirates a big leg-up at half-time. Instead of going in 11-6 they went in 18-6 up.
“We got back in the game and then let it go again,” Duncan said.
It’s something he’d hoped they’d got out of after having similar issues last season.
In the other round three games Moree hosts Walcha, Pirates is at home to Gunnedah, Narrabri heads out to Barraba and Inverell makes its way to Scone.