INVERELL has already ticked the box of what it wanted to achieve this year as it travels to Tamworth today for a tough encounter with the Pirates.
The Highlanders are in a rebuilding phase and will use the rest of the season to build club culture, according to coach Scott Bremner.
After sneaking into the top five, the Highlanders now linger 11 points beneath fourth-placed Gunnedah and 19 beneath Pirates in third.
“We set out to make the top five and already we have seen some big improvement,” Bremner said.
“First round we didn’t get within 30 or 40 points of these sides. Now it is just a try.”
Inverell pushed the Bulls last week to a seven-point loss and looked to be on top at the end, and believe that Pirates play a similar game.
“It’s the same structured football they have been playing for 10 years,” Bremner said.
“You have just got to try to counter it.”
The Highlanders are a small side but what they lack in weight they try to make up for in speed and fitness.
“We have got a young backline that can score a lot of points and have nothing to lose this season,” Bremner said. “If we can win our own ball and compete at the set piece we will get plenty of opportunities.”
Captain Chad Makim’s move from centre to flanker continues to be an inspirational move for the coach.
“We are just chipping away and getting the culture right,” Bremner said.
Meanwhile, in the second tier the Magpies have strung two wins together for the first time in years and are looking to get one back on Walcha at Walcha’s Captain Cook Oval today.
Only a month ago a second -string Walcha side robbed Tamworth of a win with two tries and some magic in the final minutes at Tamworth.
That loss is still fresh in the mind of coach Ross Duncan, who has never seen the club win three in a row since joining in 2012.
“Walcha is the benchmark of this competition now for us,” Duncan said.
“They are how good you need to be to win this tier.”
After the last game, Duncan knows how dangerous the Rams’ backline can be and want the Magpies to play disruptive football.
“They can turn it on and score a lot of points,” Duncan said.
“We need to attack them with our forwards and slow down the ball as much as we can.”
Unfortunately, the Magpies will be missing captain Rhys Duncan and lineout key Sam Burgess.
The other second tier game will see Barraba play Quirindi.