ALL TO PLAY FOR: Allan McKenzie will play in the halves when South Grafton take on Macksville on Sunday.
ALL TO PLAY FOR: Allan McKenzie will play in the halves when South Grafton take on Macksville on Sunday. Matthew Elkerton

Group 2 season hangs in balance for injury-ravaged Rebels

RUGBY LEAGUE: If South Grafton Rebels are any chance of playing finals football they must win against Macksville Sea Eagles tomorrow.

That's the blunt message from coach Ron Gordon, who will look for an improved defensive effort from his side when they travel south for the all-important penultimate round clash.

With Macksville sitting one point and one spot below on the Tooheys New Group 2 competition ladder, a loss would see the Rebels slip to sixth place.

With time running out in the season, Gordon said a win this week was essential.

"If Macksville win they jump us on the competition ladder, and if we win we can secure that fifth spot, so it's really a must win for us if we're any chance of making the finals," he said.

"Playing Macksville in Macksville is one of the hardest games of the season. Even when we went down there as premiers we struggled, it's a tough gig. It's one of those games that no club enjoys."

While the Rebels have played expansive and attacking football all season, Gordon said their ability to score points from anywhere on the park has been undermined by their lack of consistent defensive focus.

"We play good footy in patches but our efforts in defence haven't been there," he said.

"Everyone knows defence comes down to attitude. If you want to put in the effort and stop blokes before they get to the chalk you do it. If the boys want to put in the hard work and have the right attitude they make those tackles, but that's been missing at times.

"We don't really struggle to score points but we've been going tit-for-tat and it's hard to win footy games like that. We're scoring then undermining our brilliant work with our poor defence."

While the Rebels have struggled with injury this year, Gordon praised the efforts of his players who have consistently put in on the field and at training.

GAME DAY: Macksville Sea Eagles v South Grafton Rebels at Allen Gillett Oval. First grade kick-off at 2.30pm.



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