THE NEXT three days will be pivotal in defining the seasons of Sailors both home and away.
Sailors currently hang on to second spot by a thread in Grafton A Grade Men's Hockey and play two matches across the weekend.
However, they will be without captain Scott Smith and defensive player Josh Cumberland, who are both involved with NSW at the Australian All Schools Championships in Adelaide.
The side threatening Sailors' spot in the top two is Barbs Hagars, who they meet in a "catch up" match at Clarence Valley Regional Hockey Complex at 6.30pm this evening. Then on Sunday at 6.35pm they take on leaders City Bears, whom they beat 3-1 on July 20. However, their most recent outing was a 2-all draw with cellar-dwellers Royals.
"No one would say they don't want two bites of the cherry," Sailors' Joel Ward said about the importance of finishing top two.
"This weekend will pretty much determine where we finish. Heading into finals we will need to pick up our game from our last game."
Missing Smith and Cumberland will make that task all the more difficult.
Smith's expertise in particular is invaluable. So much so that it was confirmed this week the Grafton High School teacher will travel to Germany in May, 2015, with the Australian Schoolboys side.
"A six-nation tournament has been confirmed between Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Scotland and Australia," Smith said from Adelaide, where he is defensive coach of the NSW side.
"The trip will go for about 17 days with a few tour games followed by the tournament."
The playing component of the Australian Schoolboys team will be named at the conclusion of the All Schools Championships tomorrow.