TOMORROW will mark the half-way point of the first round and, for several sides, it’s crunch time as far as their top five hopes go.
Gunnedah is one of those and the Red Devils face a difficult assignment against a Barraba side that hasn’t been far off the pace in three of its four games and is playing at home where it is notoriously hard to beat.
“It’s always been forever – Barraba at home grow an extra leg,” Red Devils co-coach Tim Walsh said.
Walsh said it was an important game in the context of their season.
“Win and we cement our spot in the top five. Lose and we’re in a bit of strife,” he said.
Gunnedah appears to be locked in battle with Scone and Inverell for the other two spots in the top tier, with Moree, Narrabri and Pirates looking to have a mortgage on three of the spots.
The way they are playing it’s hard to see them missing out.
Tamworth is also challenging and is only a couple of points adrift of the Red Devils and Highlanders – keeping the pressure on.
The Red Devils are coming off a good win over Quirindi last week but, as importantly as the win, found their rhythm in attack again.
“We needed to get some confidence back in the fact we could still do something when we’ve actually got the ball,” Walsh said.
Against Pirates the week before, they really struggled to go anywhere in attack.
“We’d like to think we do the job and if we get our go-forward working properly we’ve got it in us to score plenty of points,” he said.
That will start at the breakdown.
They need to pick up there, with the Rams noted for being good at the breakdown.
“We still probably lack a fair bit of urgency for long periods of time,” Walsh said.
“We’re good at doing things for two or three phases.”
But they can’t seem to sustain it as long as he would like.
The Rams are yet to taste a win but feel they’re close to cracking one and took a lot of positives out of their seven-point loss to Tamworth last week.
“Our defence was pretty tight,” second-rower Jack McCarthy said.
It needed to tighten up after conceding 63 points against Narrabri and they’ll be looking to maintain that tomorrow.
And “pick up a bit more flair in attack”.
“We’re working hard at getting our attack deeper and more fluent,” McCarthy said.
“Try and get it to the wings. That’s hopefully where the points will come from.”
He said they’re also focused on improving their execution when they get to the right end of the field.
In other games, Pirates host Moree, Quirindi is home to Walcha, Tamworth travels to Scone and Inverell to Narrabri.