THE Port Pirates and the Hastings Valley Vikings finally have a chance to string together performances when they host matches this weekend.
The teams play on Saturday afternoon, with the Pirates playing the Kempsey Cannonballs at Stuart Park, and the Vikings taking on the Wauchope Thunder at Oxley Oval.
Mark Howard is wary of a Thunder team that has recently lost its coach, but who are on the rise according to the Vikings stalwart.
“I think they have been pretty competitive this year to be honest,” he said.
“I don’t think they’re too far away from the rest of the competition. It sounds like they’re gathering momentum.”
Only suffering one defeat, the Vikings have not been blowing teams off the park like previous years which is a good thing according to the coach.
“We’ve had tight results every game. It’s been a battle for us,” he said.
“Our biggest problem is keeping the same 15 blokes on the field every week. There have been plenty of disruptions and it’s hard to get momentum because of it. But in saying that, we have been winning the tight contests so it’s all positive from me.”
The Vikings only loss came against the Snappers. In the clash, it was goal kicking that let them down, as each side scored five tries.
“We’re still fighting away to be able to win those tight matches when we’re down on troops,” Howard said.
Pirates coach Chris Young has been frustrated at the lack of game time due to weeks off, but hopes to see some continuity from now on.
“We had a very new team and the disruptions and weeks off hasn’t helped us. We need time on the park and we just aren’t getting it until now,” he said.
“We’re straight through to the end of the season with maybe only one more bye so without a doubt it’s time for us to kick into gear.”
The Pirates have a specific way that they wanted to play their rugby this season, but with downtime it has not gone to plan. They will be missing a couple of players this weekend against the Cannonballs, but Young is not worried.
“I’m expecting them to be much the same as they always are. They’re the kind of teams to stick solid all game, so we certainly aren’t expecting it to be easy,” he said.
“We need a good hit out, particularly after a week off.”