Both of Coffs Harbour's rugby teams will enjoy home ground advantage against the two Port Macquarie-based teams this afternoon.
Both of Coffs Harbour's rugby teams will enjoy home ground advantage against the two Port Macquarie-based teams this afternoon. Rob Wright

Marlins all set for Pirates test

RUGBY becomes a battle of north versus south today with both Port Macquarie outfits coming up the Pacific Highway to play the Coffs Coast clubs.

At Geoff King Motors Oval, Southern Cross University has the difficult task of containing Port Pirates, while down the road at Coffs Coast Advocate Rugby Park, it's a toss of the coin between Coffs Rugby Snappers and Hastings Valley.

SCU Marlins boss Dave Nicol is out of town on Country selection duties and leaves the reins of power with skipper Joel Riddle and right-hand man, Terry "Buddha" Rayner.

"We're far from full strength and this is going to be a tough ask as everybody is already saying Pirates are the team to beat," Nicol said.

"So I've been tempted to play around a bit with team selection, particularly in the halves, to be a bit experimental.

"With four rounds I can afford to do so now, rather than rush it at the end.

"Still this could be our best chance to really get a close score against them and I'm leaving it up to the boys.

"They know I have faith in them."

Just down the Link Road, the Snappers will start slight favourites on the strength of a better than expected showing against Pirates.

Understrength and tipped to be lapped, the Coffs lads went within one try of causing an upset.

With their rep stars back on deck today and a strong bunch of emerging juniors fighting for a start in the top grade, co-coaches Rob Waddy and Craig Landrigan are back with smiley faces.

"We will be looking to capitalise on our scoring opportunities this week," Landrigan said.

"There were five or six chances in the Pirates game where we should have scored but we let ourselves down.

"After the bad weather to start the year off, hopefully the track will be nice and hard at Rugby Park."

Vikings will miss skipper Adam McCormack, the NSW Country Cockatoos scrum half, away on rep duties in Melbourne.



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