RAIN might play a major factor in any match plans when West Lions and North Tamworth Bears resume Group 4 rugby league hostilities at Jack Woolaston Oval this
The top-of-the-table clash pits two intense rivals against each other with reigning premiers West also competition leaders but tackling a determined side on its home paddock and just two points adrift on the first grade table.
West also beat North Tamworth at Jack Woolaston Oval in last year’s grand final , something the Bears don’t need to be reminded of.
What could have ignited into an explosively fast clash might be doused somewhat by the rain, North coach Sean Ferguson reckons.
“I don’t think it will favour either side,” he said of two teams with plenty of pace but no real forward size.
“It might change our tactics a bit.
“We’ll have to play mistake-free footy and complete our sets of six.”
Simple stuff in the wet or damp conditions and then create mistakes in the opposition ranks and take advantage.
Ferguson has named a young side for the clash while starting himself from the bench, mainly due to a shoulder injury he has been
“Playing two games last weekend didn’t help,” he said of club and representative duties.
“I’ll be right with four weeks off.”
He cannot afford that luxury at this stage so the next best plan is to start off the bench.
“We’ve got a pretty good back-row,” he said.
“Plus I get a good look at what’s happening as well.”
He has Scott Dywer, Tim Fenwicke and Mick Watton coming back from injury or work commitments to add to a side which beat Wee Waa 33-26 last Sunday.
West Lions also welcome a few players back while coach Tony La Chiusa might have an unlikely second-row pairing in Andrew Loveday and Chris Hunt.
Hunt has plenty of history with both clubs.
Originally with West, he was poached by North a decade ago to become part of a Bear regime which won four straight premierships.
However he returned to West Lions last year to help them win a third straight title and lines up today in the Lions pack with former centre
Normally a five-eighth, Hunt, who has has played fullback and centre, has been in the second row in recent weeks as the Lions cope with injury woes.
“Mainly forwards,” La Chiusa said this week of that long injury list.
“We’ve got centres playing prop and second row, just trying to get by with what we’ve got.
“Chris has been playing in the second row and going well too.
“He and Lovie can both play out wide if we need.
“Having Lovie back (from Manilla) is great too because of his experience.
“He’s been playing well and was probably my man of the match last week (against Narrabri).
“Lovie’s also come back to us a lot bigger but is still playing well and is strong in defence.”
He’s also hoping his Group 4 reps – Matty Nean, Brendan Hunt, Luke and Beau White and Scott Rolls – come through the game unscathed and are able to take their place in the Group 4 side if they are selected on Monday night.
“They’ll play a big part in this game,” he said.
“So will North’s reps – Fergs, Mick Watton and Chinny (Shane Wadwell).”
WEST LIONS: Scott Rolls, Ben Crowley, Shaughan Stevenson, Clint Ridley, Chris Hunt, Andrew Loveday, Matt Nean, Brendan Hunt (capt), Jeremy York, Luke White, Beau White, Tremayne Rankmore, Adam Ruttley, Shane Salvadore, Sam Taylor. Coach - Tony La Chiusa.
NORTH TAMWORTH: 1 Scott Hogg, 2 Josh Fisher, 3 Richard Clegg, 4 Andrew Moodie, 5 Patrick Strong, 6 Kierin Fisher, 7 Mick Watton, 8 Tim Fenwicke, 9 Nathan McGuire, 10 Tom Woolaston, 11 Sam Jacobson, 12 Ethan Gaffney, 13 Shane Wadwell, 14 Sean Ferguson (c/c), 15 Brock Wadwell, 16 Kye Ruru, 17 Scott Dwyer.