The United Fitness Bega Roosters are facing a Devil of a challenge on Sunday.
The first and reserve grade clashes could be a determining factor in the final four ahead of the semi-finals.
The first grade side bounced back to the winners’ circle, following its heavy loss to the Sharks, with a come from behind win over Eden.
The squad still holds first place on the ladder over Moruya with a better percentage.
Meanwhile, the challenge for the reserve grade side will need to post a win to hold off the Cooma Stallions.
Cooma is just outside the top four and is playing with newfound intensity to make the cut for the finals.
In stark contrast, the Mark Hart under 18s and the Austbrokers Southern league-tag sides are far and away competition favourites, leading their respective divisions.
The Devils will be visiting on the back of a bye round, fully refreshed
“Captain-coach Todd Ayres, Justin Keegan and Todd Wright are a formidable threat,” Roosters president Garry Arkin said.
“Ayres is in top form at the moment and his barnstorming runs has been the backbone that Tyler Hextell and Kyle Burnell feed off.”
The Roosters will be countering them with their own forward six.
“Jarrod Tamatea, Mitch Carter and Hadyen Parbery showed great tenacity in defence and returned serve with some powerful running [against Eden].”
Captain-coach Ryan Apps will be leading the team to the edges, with try-scoring wingers Lee Fuller and Marty Scott-Thomas.
Meanwhile, the inclusion of Dayne Burton and Matt Blacker adds some impact to the line-up.
Apps, in particular, is aware of what their opponents are capable of when they recently held the Moruya Sharks scoreless for 60 minutes of their contest which went the sharks way 7-0.
Steven Luff’s reserve grade side had a horror game against a fully focused Eden side last weekend.
Coming off a 40-point deficit, Luff will be rallying his troops to perform to their best against the Devils.
The Devils held a strong Tathra side to a 16-10 score at their last outing and will be a worthy contestant against the Bega side.
“Scott Lennon will be in the thick of the battle for the Roosters along with Luke Hoskins and Chris Halligan,” Arkin said.
Arkin also expected Luff will be leading the side by example in the number seven jersey.
“This will be a real arm wrestle and if the Roosters can maintain their structure for the full contest they could well come out with a win.”
Matt Grant and Mitchel West will be key in defence, while flankers Eric Fuller and Troy Johnson are on duty to add points.
In the league-tag contest, the Bega Chicks are still unbeaten.
The coaching staff of Andrew and Trudi Badullovich, along with input from Kane Morgan saw the squad put 46 points on Eden last weekend.
The squad is also pumped about team-mate Kezie Apps landing a try for NSW in the full-contact clash with Queensland last Saturday.
The minor premiership could rest in the final game of the season against the Cooma Fillies, but first the team has to overcome the Devilettes.
Andrew is keeping the girls with a level head ahead of the finals, which he described as a “whole new ball game”.
Mark Hart’s under 18s received their first real scare of the competition last week.
The Cooma side’s big men troubled the fledgling Roosters defences and the side had to dig deep to repel Cooma’s last ditch efforts to grasp the two points.
The under 18s will take on the Moruya Sharks, which are showing form beyond their fourth-place position.
“Jacob Zutt is in great form and the Sharks are keen to cause a boil over,” Arkin said.
“Zutt is among the group’s leading point scorers.”
However, the Roosters have James Bower-Scott showing plenty of flair in his attack and a number of young guns in the ranks.
Zach Ingram, Cody Hazelgrove-Danvers and the improving Braiden Mcintosh will lead the assault on the Moruya pack.
The under 18s start proceedings at the Bega Rec Ground on Sunday from 10.30am.
The Roosters will also be holding a trivia night at the Bega Golf Club on August 2.
See the BDN Diary for full details of the event.