Pivotal blow blunts Tigers
FACING Brothers at home is as tough as it gets in Ipswich rugby league but doing it without your star playmaker is the stuff of nightmares.
That's the task facing Norths tonight when they travel to Brother Seery Oval without five-eighth Josh Roberts for the IRL top-of-the-table clash.
Both teams go into the contest undefeated after two rounds.
Despite the rivals having similar records, Brothers should be raging favourites.
The premiers come off a physically draining contest against Fassifern last weekend but will have taken plenty of confidence out of the hard-fought win.
Norths on the other hand battled manfully to grind out a low-scoring win over Swifts but the loss of Roberts with a thumb injury will stifle both their attack and defensive plans.
Tigers co-captain Dale Robertson said Roberts trained during the week but it became clear he wasn't fit to play.
"It was pretty swollen and we hoped it would be right but he really couldn't catch a ball," Robertson said.
"We've moved Biggsy (Jason Biggs) to five-eighth but losing Joshy will be a massive blow for us."
Robertson said the key to covering the loss of the playmaker was to focus on the successful game plan from the first two rounds.
"We're just going to stick to what we have been doing the last couple of weeks," he said.
"Improve our completion rate, which has been down, and play to our simple game plan."
One area the Tigers will be keen to maintain is their dominant defensive line which has only conceded one try so far this year.
"Brothers will no doubt have more firepower to get across our line but if we stick to our guns, we should go fine," Robertson said.
"They definitely are the yardstick, so we'll find out how we're going by how we perform this weekend."
Brothers' hooker Blake O'Loan said his team was looking forward to the contest after the bruising encounter against Fassifern.
Despite only enjoying a six-day break, O'Loan said his team was well prepared after a light week on the track.
"Everyone pulled up sore ... it was a pretty tough encounter against Fassifern," O'Loan said.
"We were happy to come out with no injuries considering the type of game it was."
When Brothers take to the field tonight, they do so in honour of former player Matty Dennis who passed away a few years ago.
O'Loan said the memorial game always added a bit of extra motivation for Brothers players.
"Matty played in an A-grade final and won a few Reserve grade finals and was just a good mate of a lot of people at the club," O'Loan said.
"We've held the trophy every year so far so we don't want them to get it."
A grade: Today - Brothers v Norths at Brother Seery Park (7pm).
Tomorrow: Swifts v West End at Llewellyn Motors Field (3pm); Goodna v Fassifern at Richardson Park (3pm).