ARMIDALE can jump back to the top of the New England standings at Moran Oval today but will have to get there without several of its regulars.
Former Blues back Patrick Strong’s nuptials will take six or seven players out for their match-up with Barbarians.
They’ll be particularly hit hard in the backs.
The forward losses are more in the backrow, with Alex Smith and Mike TeMoana among those out.
They were two of their better players against St Albert’s last week.
Their loss will be offset slightly by the return of Ed Hiscox.
“This week will be interesting. It’ll test our depth,” Blues co-coach Alan Jones said.
Jones is also away.
He’s coaching the Country Schools side.
They play Combined High Schools in Sydney tomorrow.
He gave a mixed report card for them last week.
“We played poorly in the first half,” he said.
“We went back to what works for us against Albies in the second half.”
It had the desired effect, with the Blues overturning a half-time deficit and kicking away to a 36-18 win.
Structure was a big part of that or, more precisely, playing with a bit more structure.
Jones also spoke about that for today.
He said they try to play a similar structure across all the grades so when they do have a situation such as they find themselves in today the guys can step in easily.
The Blues have won both encounters so far against the Baa Baas.
They towelled them up in the first game but had a much tougher time of it their last meeting, and Jones is expecting that to be closer to the case today.
“They always play really well against us,” he said.
“I’m expecting a full-on contest, especially in the forwards.”
“At the breakdown they are very good.
“They’ve got a good strong pack of forwards.”
“It’ll come down to whoever executes the best will win the ball at the breakdown.
“That’ll have an impact on the rest of the game.”
In the other game, Albies make their way up the highway to tackle Guyra.