Big loss, injuries haunt Phantoms

Southern Inland Rugby Union

THE Phantoms face a tough ask tomorrow when they come up against second-placed CSU Reddies in the Leeton side’s first game at its traditional Murrumbidgee College home.

Reddies are undefeated in 2013 and Leeton is coming off a demoralising 91-point thumping at the hands of Albury, which has only been exacerbated by an injury list that kept Tuesday’s training run to a minimum.

“Training was pretty ordinary,” said club president and veteran forward Bart Challacombe.

“We had a fair few injuries at the weekend, so a fair few didn’t make training on Tuesday.

“Hopefully there will be a good turn up (last night) so we’ll sit down and assess where we’re at.”

Injury concerns include Challacombe (shoulder), Dan Lagan (neck), Joe Kafoa-Pene (knee) and Michael Wright (broken hand).

Leeton should have a full complement of backs available, although this is dependent on a successful appeal today following a red card and automatic one-week suspension for Matthias Alard.

Challacombe said the Reddies have a young and fast team this season.

“From what I’ve heard they’re pretty small, they’re very quick in the outside backs and loose forwards,” he said.

“They’ve been getting turnovers and scoring that way.

“If we can control the ball, get to the breakdown and secure possession, our backs are up to the standard to take them on.”

Despite agreeing it would be a tough ask for the Phantoms, Challacombe still had a positive assessment for tomorrow’s clash.

“I think they’re beatable and I’m confident we can put in a good showing,” he said.

“They’re undefeated so that means they’re pretty handy. The teams they’ve beaten, I’m not convinced are going to be in the top four positions, but it is still early in the season.

“We’ve got the calibre of players to knock them off.”

Tomorrow’s game times have been moved forward by two hours, with women’s sevens at 11.30pm, second grade at noon and first grade kicking off at 1.15pm.

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