Wingham Tigers are expected to be understrength for their must win clash with competition heavyweights Coffs Harbour in the North Coast Women's 11-a-side rugby league opens division on Saturday at Kempsey.
The side struggled for numbers early in the season but after acquiring a few quality players put some wins together.
It's going to be a tough ask for the Tigers if they are going to break Coffs' undefeated run. In the meantime, Group Three Rugby League chief executive Mal Drury said Coffs, Port City and Wauchope are the 'cut and dry' standouts of the competition thus far.
"The other teams are a bit off pace," Mr Drury said.
Since the group waited until the north coast rugby union seasons finished in order for players to switch codes and play in the 11-a-side competition, heat has become a factor.
"That's not ideal and because of COVID putting other seasons back we couldn't start until the end of October," Mr Drury said.
"It was over 30 degrees during the games in Wingham and Taree last week, I felt sorry for the girls.
"They only play 15 minute quarters... but it's still hard running around for 15 minutes at a time."
In a plus, more than 350 players have registered across the three divisions.
Mr Drury said the support and interest from players has exceeded the group's expectations and acknowledged many girls in the competition who haven't played rugby league before.
"The younger grades are like an introduction to the game," he added.
Taree Panthers under 15s and under 17s are doing the club proud and are yet to drop a game this season.
Mr Drury was disappointed several sides had to forfeit matches due to players with other commitments.
"I'm hopeful that won't happen anymore," Mr Drury said. With just three rounds left in the competition, Mr Drury looked ahead to round six at Coffs Harbour on November 28, where Port City will take on Wauchope in a crucial opens showdown.
1pm Macleay Valley v Sawtell (under 17s) 2pm Coffs Harbour v Wingham (open) 3.15pm Port Sharks v Wauchope (open) 4.30pm Lower Macleay v Kendall (open) 5.45pm Macleay Valley v Port City (open)
1pm Taree Panthers v Wingham (under 17s) 2pm Port City v Wingham (under 15s) 3pm Sawtell v Port Sharks (under 15s) 4pm Macleay Valley Gold v Taree Panthers (under 15s) 5pm Macleay Valley Red v Bowraville (under 15s)