Disrupted Tigers back talent against Goodna threat
NORTHS face an early test of character against the attacking might of Goodna in Saturday night's rugby league showdown.
Both teams comfortably won their opening Volunteers Cup matches with plenty of speed and flair out wide.
However, the Tigers had a stop-start week of training due to a COVID test scare that proved negative.
Norths could only train on Thursday night after their earlier session was called off as a precaution at the club.
"It's been quite disruptive,'' head coach Mick Newton said.
"We are not as prepared as what we would have liked to have been.''
The experienced mentor was particularly concerned about bench asset Rowan Winterfield being unable to get extra treatment on a bad cork.
The Tigers have also lost hooker Dylan Martin due to a two-week suspension.
"He's an enthusiastic defender and defends very well,'' Newton said of his key player who scored a double last weekend.
"He just got in an awkward position. There was no intent there. It was a bit clumsy.''
Goodna pose a major threat following their 38-18 win over Valleys last weekend.
"We've made a few changes to try and compensate based on who we are playing,'' Newton said.
"We want a little bit more size if we can to help compete with that - to try and get a bit of carry back from Goodna.''
Newton was looking at a few players to provide that extra drive upfront.
Another option is bringing in Norths junior Brydon Thompson who trained with the Jets Colts during the pre-season.
While a 48-12 win over Gatton sounded a huge win, Newton was cautious reading too much into that so early in the series between Ipswich and Toowoomba competition sides.
"It (the win) was a little untidy in places only because it was our first game in August,'' he said.
Newton said the North Ipswich Reserve field was heavy underfoot.
"I think the combinations can get a little bit better,'' Newton said.
"It was promising for us.
"We ended up going pretty well and we ended up using the bench as much as we could.''
One of the most pleasing efforts was from fullback Luke Self who scored a double and played about 20 minutes at lock making his A-Grade debut.
"That gave us a bit more distribution around the ruck,'' Newton said.
Goodna coach Alistair Taua'aletoa was eager to blood more Eagles juniors after his side scored some electrifying tries in the second half last weekend.
"We've made a couple of changes based on tactics,'' he said.
"I know this is a big game but it adds some flair from the bench.''
Among additions are young hooker/half Solo Latana, who was part of last year's under-20 side.
Schwrawalger brothers John and Chris will also come into the mix with back Leevai Sutton suspended for three weeks.
Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga will remain in the backline after his superb first-up effort.
"All the boys pulled up all right,'' Taua'aletoa said.
"The second half was definitely better than the first half.
"I wouldn't say I was exactly pleased but we're heading in the right direction.''
West End coach Jae Woodward has also made some forced changes for Saturday's first-up clash with Gatton.
Winger Liam Mullins is out after hurting his knee in the Bulldogs' 32-30 loss to Souths last weekend. He was waiting on more scans to assess the full extent of the damage.
Mosby brothers Bernard and Harold are unavailable for the second round clash.
Woodward was also monitoring some players with niggling injuries including fullback Shar Walden and Trent Manihera-Paul, two of the Bulldogs' best against Souths.
They are likely to be rested.
Jets Colts wingers and West End juniors Kody Lake and Montel Newman will make their A-Grade debuts.
Although encouraged by how West End battled to the end last weekend, Woodward said his team needed to improve its discipline with completions and reduce the penalties.
GAME DAY (all matches at North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday)
1.30pm: West End v Gatton
3.30pm: Souths v Valleys
5.30pm: Goodna v Norths