Tough game for local derby

WITH fifth place up for grabs this afternoon you could be forgiven for thinking that Bellingen coach Josh White is placing plenty of importance on the clash against Nambucca Heads.

Not necessarily so. White agrees that winning two points against the Roosters is important but no more important than other points his team could win in the remainder of the season.

“They’re all vital at this time of the year,” White said.

“You don’t want to be losing coming into the semis and we need to win to stay in contact with them, so every game is going to be vital for us.”

Last time these two teams met, the Magpies won a thriller 19-18 and White believes a similarly close scoreline can be expected this afternoon.

“It was a close one and it was one of the best games that we’ve had all year,” he said.

“It’s always tough against our neighbours next door, so it’s a little local derby for us.”

One thing Bellingen has in its favour ahead of the battle for fifth place is desire. White may not have a top-class playing roster at his disposal anymore but he’s comfortable knowing the current playing group can all genuinely look each other in the eye at the end of every match.

“As I’ve said before, the blokes that are there now are the blokes that want to be there,” he said.

“They’re committed, they’ve talked about it, in fact we spoke about it at half-time last week saying ‘what we’ve got here now is what we’ve got for the rest of the year so we’ll just keep playing and do what we can do’.”

What they can do is play some good football.

A week ago the Magpies led premiership aspirant Coffs Harbour at the break before being overrun in the second half.

“I think we proved we could do it, we just run out of legs in the last part,” White said.

In a battle for fifth place, though, the opposition simply aren’t going to roll over. Especially when Nambucca Heads are playing at home.

The Roosters have struggled after racing out of the blocks at the start of the season but coach Garren Stig believes still being in the hunt will spur his team on.

“I look at the ladder and I can’t believe we’re still hanging on to fifth and that’s enough motivation for them (the players) anyway,” Stig said.

“This game this week is huge.”

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