MOREE will be fighting to save its top two hopes when it hosts Pirates today.
Already six adrift of arch rivals Narrabri, another loss would leave the Bulls with too much ground to make up.
They’ve already had to realign their sights.
The loss to Gunnedah two weeks ago put an end to any hopes of finishing on top.
Not that they deserve to be there. The way they have been playing they deserve to be where they are, Bulls coach Damien Kelly.
He was unimpressed with the performance against the Red Devils.
“For probably 25-30 minutes we were very good but the rest of the time we were dreadful,” he said.
“There was a lack of effort, lack of urgency and lack ofattitude.”
He’s not sure why but does know that they can’t afford a repeat today or Pirates will punish them.
Nor can they concede the amount of penalties they did against the Red Devils.
Kelly had the count at about 31-7 against them.
“If we do the same thing we’ll be in trouble,” he said.
They have got the same ref so “first and foremost” they need to adapt to his interpretations.
The breakdown also needs taking care of. They had too many forwards lining up for a run rather than getting in there and doing the work.
It’s not all gloom. Last time they met Pirates they got the points, and somewhat against the odds after having to play with 14 for almost 50 minutes.
Kelly said they can draw a bit from that.
They were pretty good up front that day and, while they will be putting out a different pack today, should still be pretty strong there.
On the other side they “need to do more positive things” when they’ve got the ball.
They had a lot of ball but couldn’t turn it into points.
“If we do get that much ball tomorrow and don’t do much with it we won’t win,” Kelly said.
Pirates are arguably the form team of the competition and things are starting to look up on the injury front too, with number eight Conrad Starr set to return.
It is a big boost. Starr offers just so much for them.
“Having that extra attacking weapon there will make a big difference,” coach Andrew Verrell said.
The forwards will again be where the scrutiny is for them, and even Starr won’t be a miracle fix for the scrum.
It is a “fact of life” they will be up against it but since the last time they faced the Bulls the scrum has come along.
“After that game we went back to scrum school,” Verrell said.
“We’re adapting the way we scrum to suit that.”
He is expecting the Bulls to play a “pretty dominant forward game”.
“We need to come up with a few options to nullify that in a way,” Verrell said.
They’ve done a pretty good job though in recent weeks of blunting Gunnedah and Narrabri’s forwards.
A lot will rest on their defence.
That will give them the platform to attack and get them into a position to win the game.