CSU are in a dogfight to remain in the top flight, but its chances of maintaining a premiership division position have been boosted by the return of Sterling Ross.
The Reddies has four weeks to keep its position among the premier six, but face a big hurdle in Griffith on Saturday.
CSU coach Paul Spain is searching for another two wins to ensure its premiership hopes remain in their own hands.
Currently fifth, CSU is one point adrift of fourth-placed Wagga City, but only five points ahead of ninth-placed Ag College.
Coming off a 50-12 loss to Leeton before the bye, CSU are in desperate need of a win with a bye and games against Temora and Waratahs to follow.
Spain is confident Ross will play in all their games until the competition splits, which helps their chances.
“The lift he gives everyone is wonderful and the passion he plays with is a big lift for the whole club,” Spain said.
While CSU are set to be buoyed by the return on number eight Sterling Ross, but it isn’t all good news on the playing front.
“Every week I keep saying this, but it’s like one step forward, two steps back when it comes to players,” Spain said.
Joel McMahon will also return at hooker, but Moses Waqa and Ryan Prior will be unavailable for the clash.
To help with the player turnover the versatile Joe Tumakauvadra will move from flanker to the wing.
Spain believes taking on Griffith just following the Leeton clash provides a good link as the Blacks possess a similar style to the Phantoms and knows what to expect.
Spain thought their scrum was the best its been all season and its the defensive effort that needs to be improved.
It’s not just the Reddies’ precarious place on the ladder that makes Saturday’s clash so important.
The two teams will play off for the Ben Groat Cup.
Groat played for both club before his untimely death in 2013 and the Reddies currently hold the prize.
The Blacks won the last clash between the two clubs, the cup only goes up for grabs in the first clash of the year between the two clubs.
It’s something Spain wants to hold on to.
CSU will also celebrate the 10-year reunion of the club’s last first grade premiership and hold its charity day.
ROUND 8 DRAW
CSU v Griffith at Beres Ellwood Oval
Temora v Wagga City at Temora Recreation Grounf
Albury v Leeton at Murrayfield
Cootamundra v Tumut at Country Club Oval
Waratahs v Deniliquin (second grade only) at Conolly Rugby Complex
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