Central North Rugby Union: Pirates and Gunnedah to do battle

LOSS: Pirates No.6 Doug Biffin will miss Saturday's clash against Gunnedah.
LOSS: Pirates No.6 Doug Biffin will miss Saturday's clash against Gunnedah.

For sports teams, seasons are defined by setting and trying to achieve goals along the way to hopefully winning it all.

For the competition-leading, undefeated Pirates, a very important goal is looming as they prepare to meet sixth-placed Gunnedah at home on Saturday.

There are only three matches remaining before the 10-team competition splits in half and the top five teams play one another and the bottom five teams do the same for the remainder of the regular season.

That will mean a marked intensity increase for the leading sides.

The Pirates currently have a six-point buffer over second-placed Walcha, and would obviously love to have a bigger lead over their nearest rivals come the split.

“It (the split) doesn’t give you an easy game to rest players. You have to be fit,” Pirates coach Mat Kelly said.

“It would be nice to stay out in front.”

He added: “Having a buffer always counts.

“It’s definitely better to be out in front than trying to chase late in the year.

“We’d definitely like to stay there, that’s for sure … We’ve definitely got the personnel to do it.”

The Pirates will without No.6 Doug Biffin against Gunnedah due to a personal commitment.

Biffin has been replaced by Chad Lambert, who will play his first regular season top-grade game for the year after breaking his cheekbone in a trial and returning via a handful of reserve grade games.

“He’ll be excited to step up,” Kelly said. “It will be good to see how he goes.”