BARRABA and Quirindi will be looking to finish off what has been a tough and trying first round with a win when they clash under lights at Barraba Rugby Park tonight .
Both have been battered in recent weeks and on the wrong end of some hefty scorelines.
After successive 100+-point losses, the Quirindi Lions fared better against Inverell last week, and played better.
They’ll be looking to do the same tonight.
“We just see it as another opportunity to keep on improving,” Lions coach Grant Batty said.
“We don’t talk much about about winning, we just want to keep getting better.”
It’s been “challenging”, Batty said but, despite the losses and points they’ve conceded mounting up, they’ve been getting a pretty good roll-up to training.
“We’ve had really good numbers at training,” Batty said.
They’ve been averaging over 20, which is as good as they’ve had for three or four years.
“We do lack a bit of quality in positions,” he conceded.
It hasn’t helped that they keep on losing players to injury.
Only on Saturday they lost Toby Simkin after he was bitten by a dog on Friday and required stitches.
Batty is hoping he’ll be right for tonight.
They will though be without breakaway James Davidson. He was their best against the Highlanders but is unavailable for a while.
Batty said there could be others who come back.
What has also been encouraging as well as the numbers at training is that they are getting new faces or, in some cases, returning faces, turning up.
This weekend sees the best match-ups Central North has had all year, with all games looking to be competitive after a few weekends of mis-matches.
The match of the round will be played in Narrabri as it hosts Moree in a replay of last year’s final and a top of the table clash.
This game could further secure the favourite’s tag for the unbeaten Blue Boars after they beat Pirates and then Pirates beat Moree.
Tamworth will host Walcha and Inverell will host Gunnedah in what also should be tight matches.
Pirates will host last year’s semi finalists Scone, who will be kicking themselves after missing out on a top five spot and looking for redemption.
As it turns out, they may not have to worry about missing the top tier.
The CNRU is holding a vote on Sunday to overturn the new system with a 66 per cent vote needed to do so.
Tonight’s Barraba-Quirindi game kicks off at 7pm.