SCONE Brumbies may still have a chance at a second year in the finals as they prepare to host Pirates today, despite three successive losses ousting them from the top five.
Scone started the season well and was on top of the table after round three with wins over Quirindi, Barraba, and Inverell.
A round-five 48-point loss to Narrabri changed the momentum of the Brumbies’ season and they never recovered.
They just scraped past the Magpies the following week, before a 50-point loss to the Red Devils saw them in a battle for those last two spots at the top.
A loss to Walcha at home all but sealed their fate, before Moree hammered the nails in last week.
They may still have it all to play for, following a move to overturn the new format which will be decided tomorrow night.
If the tier system gets overturned and the Brumbies play like they did last year, they may still slip into finals contention with a full round to go.
Pirates captain Bart Leach said it was always tough on the road to Scone but this week may be even harder with the Brumbies playing for their season.
“You always go to Scone expecting them to be at their best,” Leach said.
The Pirates had a tough loss in the first round to Narrabri but have been on the up since then.
A good win over premiers Moree in round five gave them plenty of confidence which they have carried into their past few games.
Pirates have been very lucky with injury so far, with Ben Goodman the only concern with a bad knee.
Goodman will still come off the bench today.
More bad news for the Brumbies is the return of Pirates flanker Josh Stewart from Country duty.
Stewart scored two tries for the Cockatoos in their win last weekend against Australian Services.
Leach will be looking for Stewart to join number eight Conrad Starr in leading the pack.
Starr scored five tries last week and has been in top form.
“He is known as Conrad ‘five’ Starr now and I hope he can keep finding the line,” Leach said.
Leach said that the side had been having some very high contact and physical training sessions lately and it was converting onto the field.
“We have been working hard on our line speed and defending the pick and drive,” Leach said.
“We beat Moree by hitting them hard around the ruck and we plan on doing the same at Scone.”
“Hitting hard and then playing it wide has been working well for us.”
A lot of the Pirates will be backing up on Sunday to play in the Scotty Campbell Memorial match.
The inaugural match will be at Ken Chillingworth Oval, with entertainment all afternoon and night kicking off at 1.30pm.