TOP spot on the MNC Rugby table awaits the winner of this afternoon’s encounter between the Coffs Crushers and Port Pirates.
Undefeated after their opening two games so far this year, there’s no doubt that the Crushers title aspirations are about to be severely tested at Stuart Park.
Not only does the long trip south make the clash against the Pirates a daunting task but coach Craig Landrigan has also had to shuffle the line-up around to cover for a large number of absences within his team.
“It was a challenging week with six of our regular starters out, but there is no lack of experience coming into the side with Gerard de Carle returning from an overseas trip,” Landrigan said.
“Gerard was enthusiastic at training on Tuesday night and showed fitness will not be a problem outrunning many younger players on his first training run of the year.”
Once again the Crushers’ main weapon will be the forward pack which should prove too strong for the Port Macquarie team and help to pile on the points.
With so many regular players out though there will need to be plenty of tries scored as the Pirates boast a back three that has enough speed and firepower to counter any tries that the Crushers put on the board.
Having started the season with two wins from as many starts, Landrigan certainly isn’t resting on any laurels this weekend.
“Last week we were a bit flat for about 20 minutes half way through the game,” he said.
“Against a team like the Port Pirates we can’t afford those naps otherwise they will punish us with points.”
While the Crushers have started their season in fine style the same can’t be said for the Breakers.
The reigning premiers are without a win and another loss against South West Rocks today will cause the alarm bells to go off.
Like the Crushers the Breakers are also missing half a dozen regular squad members but they will be buoyed by the return of captain Dylan Hurley.
Coach Cairon Dunn believes adhering to a basic game plan this week will see the Breakers record their first win of the season.
“Our biggest aim this week is to back up in attack and work hard in defense and not to over commit,”
“Everything else will come with that.”
Crushers v Port Pirates: 15. Mathew Quirk, 14. Josh Brooks, 13. John Fogarty, 12. Henry Rawiri, 11. Shaune Rayner, 10. Angus Garland, 9. Richard Officer, 8. Craig Landrigan, 7. Kris Flanagan, 6. Vilise Vatuvili, 5. Brad Henry, 4. Gerard de Carle, 3. Daniel Redman, 2. Cameron Wainwright, 1. Joel Riddle. Interchange: 16. Brendan Hoy, 17. Dave McCormick.
Breakers v South West Rocks: 15. Steve Hackett, 14. Sheldan Phillips, 13. Dwayne Fox, 12. Dylan Hurley, 11. Jesse Browning, 10. Brendan Robins, 9. Joel McPherson, 8. Steven Tong, 7. Michael Pollock, 6. Abayasankar Sundram, 5. Shannon Capararo, 4. James Bellamy, 3. Adam Dunworth, 2. Lachlan Chubb, 1. Kelvin Rushworth. Interchange: 16. Matt Gilbert, 17. Jamie Rickord, 18. John Korff, 19. Chris Chauncy, 20. Josh Bradbury.