TAREE City's task of regaining the Krystylea Bridge Cup in the Group Three Rugby League clash against Wingham tomorrow has been boosted by the return of Jake Lauder and Dean Mills.
Neither was expected to play again this season after sustaining shoulder injuries. However, both have been cleared to tackle the Tigers.
Lauder, a North Coast under 23 representative winger earlier this season. has been named at five-eighth. Mills slots into the side at fullback.
Coach Todd Bridge is confident hooker Oscar Carey will also be right. Carey has been battling a knee problem but trained on Tuesday night. A final decision will be made tonight at training.
"We're looking a bit better now,'' Bridge said.
The Bulls will still be without Bridge, Will Clarke and Josh Northam, with Northam (Achilles) and Bridge (knee) both scratched for the year because of injuries.
Wingham has dominated the cup matches since the inaugural game in 2014, winning four of the five so far contested.
Bridge concedes the second placed Tigers will start hot favourites tomorrow. However, he said his side showed plenty of character in the recent match against Forster-Tuncurry.
"We were 10-10 at halftime but we just ran out of players in the second half,'' he said.
"But if we show the same effort this weekend I'll be happy. You always go into a game optimistic, you never know what might happen.''
Bridge pointed out the Tigers haven't been in great recent form, with a close win and a loss from their last two games.
There'll be a slight change in game times for tomorrow. A junior match will start the program from 9.30 with league tag at noon, reserve grade at 1.15 and first grade at 3pm.
Meanwhile Port City will look to cement a place in the top five when they head to Kempsey to tackle competition leaders Macleay Valley.
Macleay sit four points clear of second placed Wingham, with the Breakers in fifth spot, with three competition games remaining.
Big day for Can Assist
THE season's biggest crowd for a game in Taree will head to the Jack Neal Oval tomorrow for the Group Three Rugby League match between Taree City and Wingham.
This will be Taree City's annual fund raiser for Manning Valley Can Assist. The club has raised more than $120,000 in the past five years from the ground, with the 2018 tally reaching a record $32,000. The first grade sides will play for the Krystylea Bridge Cup, currently held by Wingham. Krystylea was just 27 when she lost her battle against a rare form of cancer in 2013.
"It's a chance for people to remember my sister and others who lost the battle with that terrible disease,'' Taree City coach Todd Bridge - Krystylea's brother, said.
"Our club is happy to help Can Assist, they do a great job.''
The Bridge family will be strongly represented in tomorrow's game, although not on the field with the Bulls.
Krystylea's cousins, brothers Matt and Tim Bridge will be lining up for the Tigers. There'll also be plenty of family members watching from the sidelines, including Krystylea's mum and day, Gary and Tanya.
"It's a big day - an emotional day,'' Todd said.
Even though the Bulls have struggled on the field this season, Todd said the players are determined to put on a show.
After the match an auction of sporting memorabilia and other items will be held at the Wynter Tavern.