By ADAM WRATTEN
SOUTH Tweed risks missing out on finals footy unless the side returns to winning ways against Ballina tomorrow.
Coach Brock Mathers has called on his players to step up for the challenge of the next two weeks ? tomorrow against Ballina and the following week against South Grafton.
Both are fellow finals contenders, and Mathers fears further losses on top of the club's last-up 54-18 thrashing by Marist Brothers could leave the Koalas too far off the leading pack heading into the business end of the season.
South Tweed has a much tougher finish to the campaign, having to play all the Tweed teams again, while southern teams with finals aspirations play the former Group One clubs.
"These are must-win games," Mathers said.
"A couple of good wins puts us back in the top six. Really they are season-shaping for us.
"If we drop the points we will fall down the ladder and it's going to make it that much more difficult."
He said his players had to be mentally switched on tomorrow.
"The Marist Brothers game was a one-off, it was more to do with our attitude and the way we went into the game," Mathers said.
"We have to prepare ourselves better for when we play the stronger teams.
"Having said that, I'm confident we are up to the challenge."
The Koalas' task will be made all the more difficult through the absence of several key players.
Big forward Joe Tuala, five-eighth Matt Manning, winger Reece Sandey and representative second-rower Michael Kelly are all missing through injury.
"The guys that are coming into the team will be able to do the job for us," Mathers said.
SOUTH TWEED: Isaac Jacky, Gene Slockee, Thomas Philips, Doug Slockee, Robert Kelly, Matt Jones, Matt Nuttal, Mark Mulherin, Sam Hyatt, Kane Stannard, Brock Mathers, Nathan Borey, Chris Humphries. Interchange: Lee Hicks.