The Maitland Pickers are primed for an upset win against Western Suburbs at Harker Oval on Sunday.
Fast approaching crunch time in the season, Maitland will be boosted by the return of Newcastle Rebels representatives Jarrod and Lachlan Smith.
The Pickers face the Rosellas on their home patch for the second round in a row, but Maitland coach Trevor Ott said if the team wanted to make finals they needed to beat the competition heavyweights.
Wests beat an under-strength Pickers 38-12, but Ott found plenty of positives and will be asking his team to take risks.
“I thought our forwards more than matched them last game, it was their halves and outside backs who did the job on us in the end,” he said.
“We need to play for 80 minutes, control the ball and throw plenty at them. You’re not going to win playing safe, so we’ve got to take some risks to get some reward.
“We were very poor at giving up our inside shoulder in defence last game.
“They scored four or five tries against the grain and we need to keep on doing our job once the ball goes past the centre we need to keep pushing across and make sure we help the next guy out. Defending as a unit and playing the 80 minutes.
“We can’t play straight up and down, with class of their backs we’ve got to move them around and try to expose some errors.”
Ott said the players were refreshed after a week off and trained well.
“It was good to have the week off I thought we trained exceptionally well on Tuesday night after the rain softened up Coronation, it was probably the best I had seen it all year.
We went over some structure we wanted to put in place after lessons learned against Wests and I was really happy with how the session went for the whole club.”
Hayden Grainger will have a fitness test, but has been named in the back-row with Tylar Carter and Brenton Horwood returns to lock.
Ngangarra Barker starts at fullback. Zach Pursehouse retains his spot on the wing after winning players’ player in his first grade debut last game.
Maitland: 1. Ngangarra Barker, 2. Zach Pursehouse, 3. Trent Papa, 4. Jayden Hocking, 5. Jackson Tynan, 6. Blake Birch, 7. Luke Dorn, 8. Jacob Sinclair, 9. Jarrod Smith, 10. Dane Tilse, 11. Hayden Grainger, 12. Tylar Carter, 13. Brenton Horwood. Interchange from: Jake Hawkins, Jayden Butterworth, Josh Papworth, Lincoln Smith and Jarron Costelloe