Upper Mid North Coast Rugby: Still plenty to improve on for Cannonballs

Stiff arm: Cannonballs first grade flanker Jeremy Winn palms off a Wauchope Thunder defender in their victory on Saturday. Photo: Penny Tamblyn.

Stiff arm: Cannonballs first grade flanker Jeremy Winn palms off a Wauchope Thunder defender in their victory on Saturday. Photo: Penny Tamblyn.

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The Kempsey Cannonballs first grade side are fresh off a convincing 45-5 victory over the Wauchope Thunder, but coach Jared Fuller insists his side needs to continue to improve to reach their full potential. 

“We have heaps to improve on - we worked our defensive structure and communication in defence last week and it was pleasing to see it pay off on Saturday,” Fuller said.

“But that is just the start, we will continue to develop different things and hopefully it will be paying off for us towards the back end of the season.

“Our forwards need to be more organised while we need more work on our depth and combinations in attack.”

The Cannonballs tackle the Grafton Redman in both grades on home soil on Saturday and it shapes to be a tough match with Grafton having a strong start to their season.

“Grafton are a bit of an unknown. Last year they had a strong forward pack and we are expecting that to be an area where they excel,” Fuller said.

Grafton’s first grade side are sitting in the middle of the table and have split their two games this season, defeating the Port Macquarie Pirates 40-17 before losing to Coffs Harbour Snappers 17-10 on Saturday.

Fuller is predicting Grafton to fight for a top four spot, increasing the importance of Saturday’s match.

“We always need to defend our home field but especially against sides who will be up there near the end of the season,” he said.

Cannonballs were dealt a blow with first grader Tasi Afoa suffering an achilles tendon injury which will rule him out for 4-6 weeks.

Afoa had a strong pre-season which saw him earn selection into the Mid North Coast Axemen team and he played a role in the side winning the NSW Country Championship tier two title.

The prop is hard to replace but Fuller has a few options in mind.

“There are a couple of different things I can do. We will choose the option which replaces him with the least amount of disruption to the side,” Fuller said.

The reserve grade side will be tested, facing the undefeated Redman outfit who are on the top of the table and have earned three bonus point victories.

The Cannonballs have two wins from their three games. 

They narrowly defeated the Bowraville Goannas, suffered a big defeat at the hands of the Snappers before they cruised to victory over the Thunder in their latest start.

Reserve grade kicks off at 1.30pm followed by first grade at 3pm.

“Hopefully we get a good crowd out there to support us,” Fuller said.

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