Hastings Valley are still smarting from their opening-round loss to Port Macquarie, but the irony is the Vikings could eventually have the Pirates to thank for the defeat.
Vikings captain Adam McCormack conceded his team had only played one half of "bad footy" all season, but it was enough to give them a kick up the backside.
Since halftime at Stuart Park in the opening round, the Vikings have clicked into gear and registered three-successive wins in the Upper Mid North Coast Rugby Union competition.
"We've had 40 minutes of bad footy all season and Pirates put 27-5 on us; it was the biggest wake-up call," he said.
"We're still pretty disappointed about losing the first one, but a lot of lessons were learned from it because Pirates are a real threat this year."
McCormack admitted Pirates are the real deal this year which they probably haven't been for a while.
"They have old, experienced heads back in Bleddyn and Geary which gives them confidence and their backs are willing to have a crack," McCormack said.
"It's evenly matched at the moment."
The Vikings have been impressive in recent weeks with convincing back-to-back victories at Coffs Harbour, although their focus has been on the derby rematch.
"It's been on our radar since we had that loss and we won't be full-strength but it doesn't seem like we are capable of that until finals come around," McCormack said.
The Vikings will be focused from kick-off at Oxley Oval on Saturday as the club celebrates sponsors day which doubles as a fundraiser for the Make A Difference foundation.
First grade will wear specially designed jerseys which will be auctioned off afterwards with the funds raised going straight to the charity.
Pirates coach Marc Minor said his team would approach the fixture as just another game and their focus was on improvement regardless of the scoreboard.
"Our continuity needs to be a bit better and we need to just relax," he said.
"We will go in with the same team as we had against Marlins, but we're missing a few players from the first round."
First grade kicks off at 3.15pm.
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