SOUTHERN Cross University will attempt to salvage its season when it takes on Casuarina in Far North Coast rugby union at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore, today.
The seventh-placed Rats still have semi-finals aspirations after coming out of their toughest period of the season when they lose players to the semester break at university.
They welcome back captain and fullback Dean Wilson along with hard-working flanker Ben Prozinski for the must-win clash against eighth-placed Casuarina.
A win here would put them right back in the mix with a catch-up game still to be played against Wollongbar-Alstonville at home on Thursday night.
"We should have just about everyone on deck now to make that final charge towards the finals,” SCU coach Josh Condon said.
"It will be a tough ask but I'm still confident in the potential of this side and we know we can score plenty of points.
"Getting Dean back is important to us and Ben Prozinski does a lot of work in the forwards.
"We just had the uni break but guys like Nick Drew and Riley Spencer came up from reserve grade and did a great job.
"Matt Anderson has also been really strong for us at No8 and Kirk Taylor-Brown is leading the way in the front row as he always does.”
The Rats have bad memories of a 26-25 loss to Casuarina in the first round where they outscored the opposition five tries to two.
Casuarina managed to snatch the win on the back of four penalty goals to fullback Web Lillis while the Rats missed all five conversions.
"That was a hard way to lose but we didn't make it easy on our kicker with all the tries out wide,” Condon said.
"He's improved since then too and I'm pretty confident of a good team performance here.”
In other games today:
Bangalow can leapfrog Byron Bay into fourth when they host Lennox Head at Schultz Oval, Bangalow. The Rebels have won five of their six home games this seson with Lennox Head the only team in the top four they have not beaten.
Competition leaders Ballina host Lismore City at Quays Reserve, Ballina. The Seahorses had a 27-19 win over Lennox Head last week.
Wollongbar-Alstonville takes on the Casino Bulls at Lyle Park, Wollongbar. The Pioneers are third on the ladder and still in the mix for a home semi-final.
Byron Bay has the bye.