Junee needs to find winning form with finals in the balance

GOING DOWN: Junee's Matthew Logan gets brought down by Ed Ansell in the big loss to Brothers before the bye. The Diesels are out to hit back against Albury on Sunday.
GOING DOWN: Junee's Matthew Logan gets brought down by Ed Ansell in the big loss to Brothers before the bye. The Diesels are out to hit back against Albury on Sunday.

Coming off their worst loss of the season, Diesels captain-coach Matt Hands is looking for his team to rise to the challenge on Sunday.

Belted by Brothers 42-6 before last week’s general bye, Junee are in a precarious situation at the midway point of the season.

They are currently eighth but are only two points, plus points differential, outside the top five.

With three wins and five losses through the first nine rounds, the Diesels are level on points Brothers and Temora.

Sitting in fifth is this week’s rival Albury.

With the ladder positions Hands has declared the clash at Laurie Daley Oval a crucial game for the club.

“It is a must win game with them sitting in fifth spot and so much congestion around sixth to 10th,” Hands said.

“Lose this game and finals are starting to slip away with only half the season left.”

After the first nine rounds, Hands was hoping the team would be higher on the ladder.

Now he’s looking to work their way out of a tricky situation.

“There is nothing we can do about that now,” he said.

“We just have to get out there and win a few games.

“We do have a reasonably tough so we can’t let too many more slip up.

“Playing at home this is a good chance to put in a good performance after what happened two weeks ago.”

Things won’t get any easier with games against all five teams in the top five in the next seven weeks.

The Diesels were without Pat Guthrie and Pat Sweeney in the forward pack to tackle Brothers and Hands thought his a lack of size proved costly.

However both are only a chance to take on Albury.

The Thunder have their own troubles, after sacking captain-coach Tuki Jackson last week, and Hands expects they will be fired up.

“They will have a strong forward pack regardless of who plays for them,” he said.

“It’s the same as usual – if we can contain the pack a little bit and actually make the most of our chances this week then who knows.”

Jackson looks unlikely to play on Sunday while Albury, who are coming off three straight losses, will be without the suspended Andrew Smith.