Wingham Tigers prepare to host second placed Wauchope on Saturday

Former North Coast under 23 second rower Jake Mullen takes the ball up for Wingham in the June 2 clash against Forster-Tuncurry. The Tigers meet Wauchope on Saturday at Wingham.
Former North Coast under 23 second rower Jake Mullen takes the ball up for Wingham in the June 2 clash against Forster-Tuncurry. The Tigers meet Wauchope on Saturday at Wingham.

WINNING the next three games will have Wingham well placed to make a charge at the Group Three Rugby League minor premiership.

Coach Mick Sullivan said this as the Tigers prepare to host second placed Wauchope on Saturday.

"We have a big block of three games coming up. if we can get three wins there that'll place us in good stead looking towards the semi-finals,'' he said.

The Tigers sit in third place on 12 points, one behind Wauchope with Macleay leading the way on 14.

After Wauchope Wingham heads to Port Macquarie to play the fourth placed Port City Breakers (eight points) before meeting Macleay at Wingham on Saturday June 29 in a game that potentially will have a huge bearing on the minor premiership.

The Tigers have a fairly good run into the playoffs from there, with games against Taree City (away), Old Bar (home) before finishing against Port Macquarie at Port.

Wauchope beat Wingham by a point in the first round after a late field goal by five-eighth Nick McCabe and Sullivan said the Tigers are keen to atone for that effort.

"You don't want to lose twice in the one season to any team,'' he said.

After the game against the Blues Wingham had a 0/2 record. They haven't lost a match since.

Sullivan admits he enjoyed a football-free weekend last weekend with the general bye in Group Three.

"There's another bye in a couple of weeks - I'll take them,'' he laughed.

Wingham will be close to full strength for Saturday, with Tim Watson available and returning to the back row. Nick Beacham moves up front to allow Watson into the pack, with Blake Fraser switching to the bench.

Sullivan expects second rower Kynan Budd and utility backs Trent Green and Nathan Maher to be back soon as he looks to finalise the squad for the big matches ahead.

Wingham's last start was a 66-8 demolition of Forster-Tuncurry, but despite the scoreline Sullivan wasn't over-impressed with the performance, particularly in the first half.

The Tigers struggled at times in the first stanza and only led by 10 points at the break. However, the second half became a landslide against a Forster side minus a number of regular first graders.

"Again, we've getting sides when they're under-strength,'' Sullivan said.

"That's been our good luck - and that can soon change - so we'll take it.''

However, he expects the Blues to be a 'big test' for the Tigers.

"Wauchope's been in the top three all season so that obviously shows what they are capable of,'' he said.