Old Bar prop expected to be fit for Group Three preliminary final

Expected to play: Old Bar prop Rumone Jackson.
Expected to play: Old Bar prop Rumone Jackson.

PROP Rumone Jackson is expected to be fit for Old Bar in Sunday's Group Three Rugby League final against Macleay Valley at Kempsey.

Jackson, who has been in strong form for the Pirates this season, limped off not long before fulltime in Old Bar's 40-18 win over Port Macquarie in the minor semi-final played at Taree.

Old Bar player-coach Danny Russell confirmed Jackson didn't train on Tuesday night but he's confident he'll be right to take on the Mustangs by Sunday.

Russell expects there'll be only one change to the starting lineup, with Jai Simon coming into the second row with Tom Johnson returning to the bench. Centre Daniel Morris wasn't considered for selection because of a facial injury and Joel Campbell is likely to retain his place.

The Pirates have bad memories of their last trip to Kempsey at fortnight ago in the preliminary semi-final. Down on numbers Old Bar were in the game until halftime but were eventually heavily beaten.

However, Russell is confident the Pirates can turn that around on Sunday. He's still bothered by a virus but says he's in no doubt for the final.

Russell said the Pirates will have to play for the 80 minutes if they are going to upset Macleay.

"We've been starting well but then dropping off towards the end of the first half and in the second half,'' he said.

"But at least we've been finishing strongly.''

That was evident against the Sharks when Old Bar held at 16-6 advantage at the break but were trailing 18-16 early in the second half before finishing all over Port.

Lock Nathan Maher had his best game of the year against Port and his combination with fullback Aden Avery was a match winner for Old Bar.

"They worked well together,'' Russell said.

"I hope that'll continue this week.''

The Mustangs suffered a last minute loss to Wauchope in the major semi-final and are expected to field much the same side on Sunday.

Macleay will also be involved in the reserve grade match where they'll tackle Port City.

The first grade will be underway from 3pm.