OLD Bar will call some young local talent into the first grade squad for Saturday’s crucial Group Three Rugby League game against Wingham at Wingham.
The Pirates usually have a couple of under 18s on the interchange bench. However, there’s no junior game on Saturday so the 18s will be fresh.
Joel Dark, Joel Minihan and Kane Evans have all played plenty of minutes in first grade this year and will be in the squad on Saturday. Another under 18, prop Jared Wooster, will be in the starting 13.
“It’ll be interesting to see how they go without having to play an earlier game,’’ Old Bar captain-coach Jake Wheeler said.
Wheeler concedes the Pirates are now struggling for senior players for varying reasons. Last week the reserve grade had just the bare 13 for the clash against the table-topping Port Macquarie.
The Pirates have a difficult run into the five, with tomorrow’s match against the third placed Tigers followed by competition front runners Port City. They finish with Macleay at Kempsey.
“If we win two of the three we would still be a chance of finishing in the top three, depending on other results,’’ Wheeler said.
“So this weekend is going to be very important for us.’’
The Pirates lost 36-14 to the Sharks last week. Wheeler agreed there were some defensive deficiencies out wide, however, he said Old Bar’s biggest problem was again ball control.
“If you don’t hold onto the ball then you don’t win games – it’s simple really,’’ he said.
There is a possibility Old Bar could slip to fifth spot if Port Sharks can win their remaining three matches and the Pirates stumble. The Sharks play Wauchope before meeting Forster-Tuncurry and Wingham.
“That’s why it’s important for us to get a couple of wins out of the last three games,’’ Wheeler added.
Meanwhile Macleay Valley has forfeited the first grade clash against Port City. The clubs will meet in league tag and under 18s.
Group Three’s management will meet with the club to determine whether the remaining first grade games against Wauchope and Old Bar will proceed.