A FIERCE local derby is sure to unfold when traditional rivals, the United Fitness Bega Roosters and the Tathra Sea Eagles, clash at Tathra Beach Country Club on Sunday from 2.30pm.
Both sides are coming off the bye and will be keen to get back to winning ways after losses in their last starts.
The Roosters went down narrowly to the Narooma Devils despite a late fightback a fortnight ago to record their second defeat in the last three games, while the Sea Eagles were unable to add to their solitary win this season when they were hammered by the competition favourites, the Moruya Sharks.
The absence of the injured Scott Fuller has hurt Bega in recent weeks, while Tathra is also nursing a growing injury toll, leading captain-coach Willie McDonald to issue a call to arms.
Roosters’ team manager Jeff Apps is adamant the side can turn around their recent indifferent form and build momentum heading into the finals.
“We have had some injuries to key players but the side trained well during the week,” Apps said.
“We know that Tathra saves their best for us, and we won’t be caught short by their low standing on the ladder.
“They have some talented players in their line-up and our guys know it will be a typically hard-fought game.”
Captain-coach Ryan Apps has worked hard with his charges in the lead-up to the game, and he will look to his forward pack again to carry the load so that his exciting backline, spearheaded by Blake Robinson, can put points on the board.
Apps said Scott Ingram and Adam Blacka will need to take the right options, and get the ball to the exciting Marty Thomas and Lee Fuller, who know how to score tries when given room on the edges.
Grant Jessop is also key figure, and his clash with exciting opposite number James McMillan is sure to be a highlight.
The Roosters are desperate to secure a top-two position and book themselves a spot in the major semi-final, which would give them two chances at reaching the decider.
A win should see them achieve this goal, but a loss against a stubborn Sea Eagles’ side could see their fall from grace gain momentum.
For Tathra, McDonald will look to back-rowers Clay Child and Scott Orr to take the game up to the Roosters, and give McMillan and exciting half Tate Cochrane the opportunity to set themselves loose on the Roosters defence.
Tathra president Chris Sly is quietly confident his side will give a good account of themselves, and knows that the players who are out there will be committed and would like nothing more than to put a dent into the Roosters’ run into the semis.
Sly has called on all of the Tathra supporters to turn up and cheer the home side on in their last game for 2014 at the Country Club.
“Sometimes when you don’t have the wins, you feel like tossing it all aside,”Sly said.
“But the club has got too much history for us to let it go.
“We’ll just battle on, keep going.”
He said it is the love of their club that keeps the players coming back after so many losses, and they keep motivation going to keep playing by “living in hope, thinking things will get better”.
Mr Sly said he does aim to get more players involved next year however one of the problems in getting new players into the squad is finding them a job.
“Lots of people want to live down here on the coast, but it’s not always easy for them to find employment.”
An injury-depleted Tathra Sea Eagles have been forced to forfeit the reserve grade clash this weekend, handing the Roosters the two competition points and an armchair ride to the semi-finals.
As a result, the under 18s clash between the undefeated Roosters and the in-form Merimbula-Pambula Bullpups will now be played at 1pm.