GUNNEDAH Bulldogs have possible lost playmaking pivot Matt Brady and prop Jason Smith for the season, in another double blow for the side.
The Bulldogs have a home Kitchener Park game against West Lions today and drafted Robbie Briggs into half back in place of Brady, who has a slight fracture of the collar bone.
With Smith also injuring knee ligaments coach Shane Rampling is resigned to losing both for the season.
“Losing Matty is a massive loss for us.
“He’s got a slight fracture of the collar bone.
“We’re hoping it’s not too bad and he might be back for the semis. But Jason is gone for the season. He’s been great for us and playing really good footie.
“We’ve brought in Robbie Briggs and he’s been going really good in second grade. He had a great game last week and will get better with a bit more match time.
“We’ve also got Oli Neader back and Toby Morris came back from a shoulder injury last week and played second grade last week. “
Gunnedah sit second on the ladder four points ahead of West but have a final round game against North Tamworth while the Lions play Wee Waa.
“They mightn’t even turn up,” Rampling quipped of the Panthers who forfeited last Saturday’s match against the Bears.
So a win today will tie up second and a “second bite at the cherry” in the semis.
“We need to shut down Chris Hunt,” Rampling said of a simple plan to beat West.
“He’s their main man.
“And we’ve got to watch out for that young winger Dylan Lake. He’s lightning and we won’t be kicking to him.
“It’s going to be a tough game for us.”
On the back of a 92 point thumping of the Diggers, the Lions plan to keep on roaring into the finals.
After missing last week captain coach Chris Hunt is eager to get back on the field and test where his side is at before September.
Tom Hine will sit out with a slight hamstring injury otherwise the premiers are going to Gunnedah unchanged.
“It is hard to take anything from games like last week,” Hunt said.
“But we stuck to our patterns and need to do that again.”
The skipper plans on moving the ball and the Bulldogs forwards all over the park.
“If we get them on the back foot our little blokes will cut them apart,” Hunt said.
“We will have to work hard to stop their roll first though.”
“This is the game we need heading into the finals.”
Following a disrupted off season Hunt is content to roll into the finals in third spot.
“At the start of the year I only wanted to get a team on the field.”
“Now we want to win the premiership.”
o In other games tomorrow North Tamworth play Narrabri Blues in Narrabri and Oxley Diggers travel to Wee Waa to play the
G4 FIRST GRADE TABLE:
North Tamworth 26, Gunnedah 20, West Lions 16, Narrabri 12,
Wee Waa 4, Oxley Diggers 0.