After taking a big step towards securing a semi-final spot at Barraba last week, Narrabri will be wary of undoing all of that good work when they host Inverell at Dangar Park on Saturday.
Jostling with the two Rams sides – Barraba/Bingara and Walcha – for third and fourth, the 34-15 win saw them stay level with Walcha and push five points clear of Barraba.
“It was very important. That could be a big deciding factor in who finishes third and fourth,” Blue Boars coach Dylan Duncan said.
“If Barraba had beaten us it would have made it very difficult for us.”
There are still no guarantees, and they have some tough games to come with Pirates next week in Tamworth, and Moree, away, to finish the regular season.
It makes the points on Saturday all the more crucial, especially if they want to host the minor semi-final.
Duncan though doesn’t mind the pressure. He believes it will stand them in good stead should they make the final four.
“That’s good for our side, especially being such a young side,” he said.
He has enjoyed watching them evolve into a real attacking force – well for the most part anyway.
One of the pitfalls of playing such an attacking style as they do is that you can caught up wanting to attack from everywhere.
It is a balancing act, and Duncan spoke about improving their exit strategies.
“We just really want to work on exiting our half better and playing the game in the opposition’s half.
“We’ve got a team that can score tries from anywhere but the trouble is we try to score too much from our end, which puts us under pressure,” he said.
It’s not all about attack though as the Blue Boars showed against the Rams last week.
For Duncan the most impressive aspect of the win was their defence.
“We just defended really well. The only reason they were in the game was because we gave them the footy,” he said.
The Blue Boars ran out 35-21 victors last time they met the Highlanders but were a very-different looking side, particularly in the backs.
Half-back Matt Schwager, and outside centre Jacob Booby are the only two of the starting backs that played that day.
The latter has been developing a really good combination with Jake Packer at inside centre.
“They’re playing well together,” Duncan said.
The Blue Boars’ pivot the last three seasons, Packer’s reinvention as a centre has added another dimension to their attack.
“It gives us two ball-playing options,” Duncan said of Packer at 12 and Callum Styles at five-eighth.
Both are good ball distributors, and it gives them the luxury of attacking from both sides of the field.
From the first round, Duncan noted that the Highlanders like to play a really quick game and throw the ball around, which will present a different defensive challenge to playing against the likes of Moree and Pirates.
In the other fixtures Scone host Quirindi and the two Rams sides clash at Bingara in a game that could decide the home sides finals fate.
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