Central North Rugby Union: Pirates and Inverell Highlanders set to clash

The news just gets worse for Inverell ahead of their clash against the undefeated Pirates at Chillingworth Oval on Saturday – they will face a full-strength side.

Pirates coach Mat Kelly delivered the daunting news, with the return of No.7 Sam Collins and fullback Simon Trappell giving the reigning premiers their strongest possible outfit.

“We’ve had one or two changes nearly every week,” Kelly said.

“We look to finish off the first round in good fashion but we’re not underestimating what Inverell are capable of.”

The sixth-placed Highlanders are 17 points behind the Pirates and are coming off a 50-28 away win over Quirindi last start.

The Pirates travelled to Narrabri and thumped the Blue Boars 62-24.

Kelly said Inverell were strong “all across the paddock” and were “very well drilled”.

“It’s always tough. They don’t stop coming at you,” he said. “No matter the scoreline, they keep coming and coming.”

Despite their menacing form, Kelly is not concerned the Pirates will peak too early. “The players we’ve got have been around along time … We know there’s still big fish to fry come the end of the season,” he said.

“We’re satisfied with the results but we’re not satisfied with the execution. We know there’s still room for improvement and the competition will keep coming and chasing us.”

In other matches today, Quirindi host Tamworth, Walcha travel to Moree, Barraba welcome Gunnedah and Scone host Narrabri.