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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Max McKinney

Kurri without 13 players ahead of derby with Cessnock

BATTLING: Kurri Kurri players after conceding a try against Souths earlier this year. Picture: Marina Neil

Kurri Kurri head into Saturday's clash with Cessnock missing a staggering 13 players but coach Aaron Watts is confident the Bulldogs will be able to field a side.

After being forced to withdraw from a catch-up game against Central during the week, the last-placed Bulldogs are again struggling for numbers.

Mostly injuries, a couple long term, coupled with some suspensions and illness, have left the Bulldogs gravely depleted ahead of the season's second Coalfields derby at Kurri Kurri Sports Ground from 3pm.

"We're still the same, just through injuries, suspensions and a few guys crook," Watts said on Friday.

"When naming a side on Wednesday, we had 13 guys out. It's been a tough week. We'll get a side [on the field]."

With a host of new players joining the club this season, the Bulldogs were optimistic of their chances at the start of the year but have only managed two wins in 10 games.

They lost forwards Harry Duggan (injury) early in the year and Jay Stevens following his workplace accident.

Kurri actually led Wests 7-6 at halftime last week, but lost two players to injury and were then reduced to 12 men when Lachlan Hill was firstly sin-binned and then sent off. Wests claimed a 28-7 victory.

"It was a tough afternoon," Watts said.

Cessnock, meanwhile, appear to have found their stride in recent weeks and are coming off a confidence-boosting 11-10 win over Macquarie at Toronto.

The Goannas sit fifth but have drawn level on points with fourth-placed Macquarie and appear well placed to make a run for the finals with four of their remaining six games at home.

Elsewhere on Saturday, second-placed Souths travel to Wyong to face the Roos, who sit just outside the top five but have struggled for consistency this year. They haven't won back-to-back games since early May.

Competition leaders Maitland host Lakes United and will be out to bounce back from some mixed results recently, including a shock loss to The Entrance last week.

The Entrance head to Toronto to meet Macquarie in a 2pm game on Sunday. Wests, who have won two of their past three games, host third-placed Central from 3pm.

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