Central North Rugby Round 6: Moree to host Gunnedah

Kyle O'Connor will start at fullback for Moree in their clash with Gunnedah on Saturday. Photo: Mark Bode
Kyle O'Connor will start at fullback for Moree in their clash with Gunnedah on Saturday. Photo: Mark Bode

Moree are steeling themselves for a tough forward battle when they host Gunnedah on Saturday.

Both sides presently sit in the top four with the Bulls second and the Red Devils third and carry in winning form after the Bulls beat Walcha in Walcha and the Red Devils thrashed Quirindi.

The Bulls have lost number eight Lachan Smith but have been bolstered by the return of John Adams and James Gall up front.

“Gunnedah have got a pretty big forward pack. A couple of bigger boys in there will help,” Bulls co-coach Peter Copeman said.

Adams will also bring a bit more stability throwing into the lineout. It was “pretty ordinary” as far as providing clean ball against the Rams, Copeman said.

Generally the possession was a bit sporadic.

Hence Copeman views the forward tussle as crucial.

“If we can get ball to our backs we can cause some trouble but we’ve got to get continuity of ball,” he said.

He also spoke about being a little bit more direct in the backline and not rushing things, and improving their defence.

While the Bulls’ defence was acknowledged as the difference against the Rams, as Copeman pointed out they still let them score 30 points. 

Returning home after two weeks on the road, the Bulls will also acknowledge Sylvester Joseph, who after starting his career in 2011 ‘as a fleet-footed Fijian flyer trapped in a front rowers body’ brought up his 100th game for the club in last years major semi-final.

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Red Devils coach Jason Waerea has had to ring the changes with Mal Frend, Matt Hannay, Kurtys Bont, Matt Neilson, DJ Morrison, Zac Newcombe, Nathaniel Tavaga and Jono Madden all unavailable.

That has forced reshuffles right across the field, and will see Brown brothers Dan and Jeremy pack down on either side of the scrum.

“As open side breakaways they are two of the best in the club, great defenders and play near identical games. It’s a great moment to see them both on the same team,” Waerea said.

Billy Flinn will start at half-back for Gunnedah against Moree on Saturday.

Billy Flinn will start at half-back for Gunnedah against Moree on Saturday.

He said despite the number of changes the side is keen and eager to roll Moree, but are anticipating a tough game.

“Our focus is defence,” Waerea said.

“We understand they can attack after putting Walcha to the sword.”

After a high-scoring match themselves, he said it is important that the Red Devils don’t get too carried away and keep it simple and direct.