THE Gunnedah Red Devils have moved a step closer to featuring in the Central North finals series with a 38-19 win over the Barraba Rams.
A double from Oscar Hunt helped set the victory up for Gunnedah, while Thomas Mellor scored a double of his own for Barraba.
Jamie Mitchell, Jono Madden, Ray Spradbrow and Cameron Mitchell also scored tries in the victory, while James Perrett finished with four conversions.
The win sees the Red Devils leapfrog Pirates into the top four with just one round of the home and away season remaining.
Red Devils team manger Stan Gaynor said Saturday's victory was "far from the prettiest" the side had achieved this season.
"We went up to Barraba and got the job done, which was pleasing," Gaynor told the Namoi Valley Independent.
"Our main objective was to go up to Barraba and get the win, to do that and claim a bonus point was really pleasing.
"Full credit to Barraba, they lead early, played hard for 80 minutes and we were really pleased to walk away with the win."
Gaynor said the late inclusion of Nick Lyons into the side proved to be vital.
"I'd say Nick, at number six, was far and away our best player on the day," he said.
"It was an impressive display, given he had only found out the night before he would be playing first grade and the conditions we were playing in.
"Along with Ray Spradbrow, I'd say those two were our best players on the day."
The Red Devils will look to cement their place in the finals against Scone next week.
"Our main focus now is to finish the season off well and ensure our spot in the four," Gaynor said.
"We have got ourselves into this position of fighting for a spot in the four with our performances earlier in the season.
"So, we will be just looking to control what we can control and hopefully come away with a win."
If the Red Devils are victorious against the Brumbies next week and other results go their way, the side could potentially finish third on the ladder and host a home final.
However, Gaynor said the side wasn't "thinking too far ahead".
"A lot of that stuff isn't really in our control," he said.
"All we can do is focus on winning our game and what will be will be."
Gaynor said the Red Devils could expect some major inclusions into the side for their clash with the Brumbies.
"At this stage we should have Nemo [Sanimo Navatu] back from suspension and Brad Hobden should be back as well," he said.
"There may be others we can add to that, but we will know more later in the week."
Gaynor said the side's loss to Pirates last month was a turning point in the season.
"I'd say we have been playing our most consistent rugby for the season since that loss to Pirates," he said.
"That loss pretty much meant we had to win all of our remaining games and to this point we have done that.
"I would say Narrabri is probably the form team of the competition at the moment but hopefully, with how consistently we are playing, our best can match it with anyone."