INVERELL will have a point to prove against Gunnedah today.
Last time the two sides met, the Highlanders were comprehensively beaten.
That was only two weeks ago and, accordingly, the Highlanders will head to Gunnedah keen to get some credibility back.
It has an element of sink or swim for them. They need the points to keep in touch with the Red Devils, and keep their semi-final hopes alive.
At the moment they’re nine points in arrears.
A loss today would stretch that to 13 at the least.
“In saying that, on our day we can play some pretty good football,” coach Scott Bremner said.
Unfortunately they didn’t do that last outing against the Red Devils.
Bremner didn’t see that game but said the discussion afterwards among the players was that it was their worst performance of the year.
“We rested on our heels in defence,” Bremner said.
“We made no effort to get off the line in defence.”
That just allowed the big Red Devils forwards to build up some steam before they got to the line and made it easier to get in behind the Highlanders’ defence.
They were also probably going a bit too high making the tackle and trying to make the big tackle, rather than getting the player to the ground first.
They couldn’t catch the ball either, their enthusiasm was terrible and their scrum awful.
Hopefully that won’t repeat.
“If a bit of luck goes our way and we hang onto the ball, we can give Gunnedah a good run for their money,” Bremner said.
If they can’t, it’ll be a long day.
The Red Devils are bracing for a desperate Highlanders side.
“It’s a pretty foregone conclusion that they need to win if they’re to have any chance of coming fourth,” Red Devils co-coach Tim Walsh said.
They, in turn, can almost guarantee themselves a semi-final spot with a win.
Walsh is wary of the Highlanders’ physical presence, both in the forwards and backs, and spoke of having to weather the physical storm.
If they can do that and wear them down, then the feeling is the opportunities might open up later in the game.
“If we play like we did the other game we’ll be okay,” Walsh said.
“That was probably one of the best performances the forwards have had.”
He said that last game they probably got on top at the breakdown.
“That’s what we’ve got to do again with their big forwards,” Walsh said.
They’ve got to be stealing the ball, tackling them to the ground – basically stopping their forwards getting a roll-on.
They did that pretty effectively last game.
“If we can contain them and not let them get a roll-on we’ll be all right,” Walsh said.