BENDEMEER Mountain Men have the chance to atone for a Group 4 Knockout loss to the Dungowan Cowboys as well as mount a serious challenge for a Group 4 Second Division Shield premiership on unlikely territory tonight.
The Mountain Men tackle the Cowboys at Tamworth Rugby Club’s Rugby Park and are hoping to ambush them.
It makes for an enthralling encounter after the 6pm start to the Ladies League Tag match with the two sides having played an emotional game at the recent KO.
While the Cowboys suffered a few bad injuries in that game and following games on their way to a KO final loss to Barraba, the Mountain Men also suffered, with Mark Morgan sustaining a fractured jaw.
Bendemeer lost its opening game of the Group 4 season to Kootingal at home on April 5 and cannot afford another slip tonight.
Dungowan scored two late tries to win its opening game against the Walcha Kangaroos in Walcha and showed it has plenty of firepower with its performances at the KO.
Halfback Matt Wilson is the key man and, along with inspirational captain-coach Luke Taylor, the creator of many of the Cowboy raids.
“If we can control them and stick to the game plan we could be 50/50 chances,” Bendy coach Jake Reid said.
“We just need to get some of those 50/50 calls.”
He said injuries to Morgan and Chris Lesley (shoulder) had made his side’s task more difficult tonight.
“But we do have Rodney Rolls back. That’s a big bonus.
“The two wingers, Ash Cruickshank and Pete Gardner, have been going good and Jye Cain has been trying his guts out at halfback.”
Rolls and Nathan Flynn will have to be strong in the middle to counter the Cowboys pack.
“It’s the third time we’ve played them this year already,” Reid said of a 2-nil losing record.
“The law of averages has got to come into it somewhere.
“The boys have been training well though. We’ll see what happens Thursday night.”
The other two G4 Second Division games will be played Saturday, with the Walcha Roos at home again to the Boggabri Kangaroos and Manilla and Werris Creek having their first games of the new season at David Taylor Park, Werris Creek.
The Manilla Tigers have a “lot of new faces”, new Tiger captain-coach Chris Vidler said.
His Tigers lost to Kootingal Roosters 28-12 in their only KO match at Scully Park.
“We’ve got to do the simple things right,” Vidler said of a side rusty and struggling to gel.
“It’s definitely a challenge for me.
“I knew that but the boys have been working hard at training.
“I’ve just been trying to get our combinations and structure right.
“We’ve got a lot of improvement too.
“Werris Creek is going to be a good challenge for us down at the Creek too as we haven’t played an 80-minute game yet.”