TAMWORTH and Scone will up the ante in the battle for second spot in Tier 2 when they match up in Tamworth today.
The outcome is likely to decide who earns the other home semi-final spot, with Walcha looking to have one sewn up.
The two sit on equal points, with the Brumbies just holding the advantage on wins.
Both accept they will have to play better than they did last week.
The Brumbies were uninspiring in beating Quirindi while the Magpies just got over the top of Barraba with a try in the last few minutes.
“We were pretty poor last weekend but came away with a win towards the end of the game,” Magpies co-coach Ross Duncan said.
It was a bit of a watershed, having struggled to win tight games in recent seasons.
The Magpies took the honours last time the two sides met after almost snatching victory back in the first round.
It was a bit of watershed for them.
“That was the first game as first grade that we actually played to the game plan and stuck to the game plan throughout the 80 minutes,” Duncan said.
“From that, we built pressure and built points and controlled the game.”
That will be the plan again today.
Mitch Wheaton and Patrick Strong come back in but they have lost hooker Adam Penman.
He’ll play five-eighth for seconds instead, having indicated that is where he would prefer to play.
Sam Hunt will start at hooker in his place.
One of the big focuses today will be on their kick chase and defensive work.
They were caught out a few times by the Rams last week.
The catch phrase for the Brumbies is attitude.
“Everything is in place for us,” co-coach Duncan Pinfold said.
“There’s no excuses.”
They’ve named their best backline and are pretty close to full strength in the pack.
But that will only take them so far and if they turn up with the same attitude as they did against the Lions they will end up in third.
That was part of the problem that last game against the Magpies.
“We had a game plan and didn’t use it once last week,” Pinfold said.
“Whenever we went five or six phases we scored.”
But most of the time they were only getting to one or two. They were either panicking when they weren’t scoring after the first or second phase, or being penalised for holding on with the support not getting there.
That urgency wasn’t there.
It will need to be today.
In the other game, Barraba heads to what is expected to be a pretty cold Walcha.