Injuries and lapses a concern despite victory
NORTHERN Suburbs' 40-28 win over Swifts keeps them in the hunt for a top-two Ipswich Rugby League spot heading into finals.
But coach Mick Newton has some headaches to deal with.
One of those is the periods during matches his team still seems to want to let the opposition back into the match.
"It wasn't very pretty but it was a win all the same," Newton said.
"It was a bit of an arm wrestle the last 20 minutes.
"We still completed our sets in the first half. But there's still a 20-minute period we start handing the ball back to them for some reason. Then we're trying to fight to keep in front or catch up.
"We're still a work in progress."
It has been the same in the previous two wins, against West End and Brothers.
Newton knows a better opponent will make them pay more heavily.
"We dominated the fist 15 minutes but never really put points on them," he said.
"Then we released the pressure and they put points on us.
"You can't do that, especially when they've got players like Alby (Talipeau) directing the boys."
The other concern for Newton and his team is a rising injury toll.
Lock Chris Scanlan (fractured sternum), halfback Ritchie Lowe (shoulder), centre Tonga Mounga (ankle) and hooker Chris Porter (groin) are all on the injured list following the win over Swifts.
"The boys came through and we're still working hard," Newton said.
Scanlan will likely miss several weeks and Mounga has been nursing an ankle injury that is getting worse by the week.
Lowe is likely to miss a week or two while Porter is getting through games but unable to train.
Jarrod Biggs is playing centre instead of fullback because he is nursing a leg injury, but that has had some positive spin off.
Brent Newton claimed a rare prop's hat-trick of tries, scoring his team's opening three against Swifts, but the coach wasn't going to talk his son up too much.
"It was more from good support play top Ritchie and Biggsy (Jarrod Biggs)," the coach said.
"We're playing Biggsy in the centres on that left side and he's fitting in really well. We've got a lot more attack down that side now."