NARRABRI Blues have endured a horror run with injury in this year’s competition.
That they are still hovering around semi-final contention is a testimony to the determination of stalwart clubman and former first grade prop John Rumsby and his players.
Rumsby, the Blues coach, has had to endure plenty this year with numerous injuries, long-term and short, to key players.
It has meant the blooding of half a dozen teenagers and they have all performed well for Rumsby.
Last Sunday the Blues beat Oxley Diggers 50-20.
They were expected to beat the winless Group 4 newcomers at home and set it up with a brilliant first half hour, leading 30-nil before clocking off for the day at Collins Park.
It was a morale-boosting win, the Blues’ first at home this season.
Rumsby was jubilant his side had negotiated the win without an injury.
“A first for us this season,” he said.
“Hopefully the luck has started to go with us.”
It has been a demanding season for Rumsby and his young side.
Young players have developed along the way, young men such as Adam Suckling.
“He was a winger,” Rumsby said.
“But he worked hard in the off season. He built himself up and still has the speed but has been playing prop for us.”
Suckling is no spring chicken either.
“He’s only 30,” Rumsby laughed.
‘“We’ve used him in the front row this year.”
Suckling was at his best last Sunday and earned the three points from the referees in The Leader-sponsored Group 4 Player of the Year Award.
“He deserved it,” Rumsby said.
He hopes he can repeat that effort and win another three-pointer tomorrow when the Blues host Wee Waa Panthers in a huge local derby.
In Tamworth, another “new” prop will be looking to continue his good season today when North Tamworth hosts West Lions.
North Tamworth prop Bill Jeffery has been one of North Tamworth’s best all season.
He and lock Nic Dobson worked hard in the off-season to reach a level of fitness that would enable them to play to their potential.
Dobson might be out injured today but he has worked his way to second on Player of the Year.
Jeffery has also polled points as well as plenty of club players’ player points.
Jeffery and skipper Marshall Barker form an unlikely pairing up front in a pack that has taken all before it this season.
The unbeaten Bears and West Lions match up around 2.30pm today while the other game is at Gunnedah tomorrow.
The Bulldogs have slumped to successive, and disappointing losses, to West and North Tamworth in successive weeks.
The jumper-grabbing defensive efforts of Shane Rampling’s Bulldogs need to be erased quickly.
They host Oxley Diggers at Kitchener Park and cannot be as lenient in defence as they have been lest the Diggers could notch their first win.
FIRST GRADE: North Tamworth 18, Gunnedah 14, West Lions 12, Narrabri 6, Wee Waa 4, Oxley Diggers 0.