Wounded Redmen searching for answers in Casino
MCKIMMS Grafton Redmen travel to Casino on Saturday under mounting pressure to record their first win of the season.
Four straight losses see the Redmen languishing near the bottom of the Coopers Far North Coast Rugby ladder, one point ahead of the Bulls.
Casino has also struggled this season and if last week's loss to Ballina is anything to go by, Grafton should be back in the winner's circle.
The Bulls are a dogged side at home, but a 106-0 thumping from the Seahorses last round must raise question marks over their commitment and desire on the footy field.
In context, Grafton's loss to Lennox last week was far from a disaster.
Up against a quality roster, the Redmen showed glimpses of form, but injuries and the reshuffling of the backline in the second half didn't help their cause.
Grafton have plenty of points in them, it's just a matter of cutting out the costly lapses of concentration and playing consistent rugby.
Saturday looms as a must win for Grafton, but once again they have been hit by a wretched run of injuries leaving co-coach Brent Berrick scratching his head.
Scrum-half Dom Bullock and centre Tyler Hancock copped heavy knocks last weekend while back-rower Rhys Nelson has succumbed to an ankle injury.
Add to that the departure of flanker Jack Morrissey and all of a sudden Grafton's playing stocks are looking a little thin.
" It's frustrating and it's always tough when you lose key players in key positions," Berrick said at training during the week.
"When you start shuffling your halves around and second-rowers it's not easy during games.
" We'll access everyone as we go through the week but I know at least two players are out through head knocks."
Berrick said his side needs to work on the "pressure moments" throughout the game and competing for the entire 80-minutes.
Grafton's first-half performances have been admirable this season but it's the next 40-minutes they need to address.
"At times we have an inability to deal with pressure," he said.
"The other teams apply pressure and we find ourselves behind on the scoreboard. We need to go back to trusting the systems we've put in place and not go back to old habits."
With several key changes likely against the Bulls this weekend, the Redmen coach said he had no doubts Grafton will still put a competitive side on the paddock.
"We'll always come up with a competitive side and I expect those players coming into the squad will perform well and be up to the test," he said.
"At the moment we need to make an assessment on the players during the week and see where we are at."
Grafton and Casino will be vying for the prestigious Craig "Hollywood" Nicholls Shield.