LAST weekend’s referees’ strike couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Ashford Roosters as they prepare to host the Moree Boars this afternoon.
The Roosters got off to a poor start this season, punctuated by the coach resigning on the eve of round two, the last time the two sides met.
Three weeks ago they announced themselves as threats in the competition after having the Rangs tied up at 22-all with 10 to go.
They lost that game but then drew 24-24 with the Armidale Rams the following weekend.
Ashford and Group 19 president Mick Lewis said the side had had three good efforts in a row now, including a 10-point loss to Inverell in round seven.
“They are some of the best in the comp,” Lewis said.
The president isn’t putting much thought into the 56-20 scoreline of that previous encounter.
“They put on 20 points in 20 minutes but the rest was very even.”
Lewis thinks they will play a similar game and use their speed out wide.
Roosters hooker Mark Lewis scored three tries in the last game and has been in top form, also playing second row at times.
He is joined by Buster Chard who is a force in the middle of a side often outclassed up front.
“We have just got two new signings who will play this weekend as well,” Lewis said.
“We have a reasonable side and I think we can get a win.”
If the strike was bad for Ashford it was just as bad if not worse for Moree, who now haven’t played a game for three weeks.
The Boars were hot coming off wins over Armidale and Tingha before the bye and then the strike weekend.
“Last week was a bloody disgrace,” Moree coach Wayne Hetherington said.
“I know it is a big thing to say but we would have beaten Glen Innes last week.
“Our confidence was right up there and we knew what we were capable of after Tingha.”
The Boars are sitting one point out of the top four in sixth position, and need this weekend’s two points if they want to keep in touch.
“We had our defence spot on before the break and need to get back there,” Hetherington said.
The other matches will see a top-of-the-table clash between first-placed Boomerangs and third-placed Inverell, while Armidale will host Goondiwindi, and Tingha will be in Uralla.