Blacks face tough test on road at Nelson Bay

Maitland Blacks coach Bobby Tynan knows how tough a trip to Bill Strong Oval is at this time of year.

Maitland Blacks coach says Nelson Bay will be smarting after losing to University last week.

Maitland Blacks coach says Nelson Bay will be smarting after losing to University last week.

Maitland head north to take on Nelson Bay on Saturday knowing they must win their final four matches if they are to play finals football.

The Gropers are three points ahead of Maitland in sixth place with both teams needing to chase down Merewether Carlton to make the top five.

Tynan says he knows how hard the assignment will be for his team on Saturday.

“We know it’s going to be tough up there, it always is,” he said.

“They’ll want to bounce back after they lost to Uni last week, which probably won’t help us any.

“But it’s always tough up there, it will be physical and we’ll have to be up for it.”

Maitland will be without Jye Estatheo who went down with a calf problem in last weekend’s 21-14 loss to undefeated leaders Wanderers.

It is hoped the Blacks junior, who made his first grade debut in round eight, will only miss one week with prop James Curran also out on Saturday.

Maitland will welcome back Kurt Courtney from shoulder and foot injuries.

Tynan said the Blacks outside backs would need to shine to get the visitors over the line.

“We need to get quicker ball to our backs,” he said.

“It will be a battle at the break down, there’s no question about that.

“They’ve got a big, strong pack of forwards so we need to take them on out wide.

“Our strength will be our backs, if we control the ball and keep it off them they’ll get frustrated, which happened last time.”

Maitland accounted for Nelson Bay 34-22 in round six at Marcellin Park and a repeat performance would see the Blacks keep their season alive.

In other round 15 games Easts host Hamilton, The Waratahs do battle with University, Wanderers take on Merewether Carlton and Southern Beaches travel to Lake Macquarie.

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