Bears prepare to face hot Panthers

SPRINGFIELD hosts the luckless Redbank Plains on Saturday night confident of retaining their undefeated Challenge Cup status.

The Panthers have come off two tough wins over Rosewood, including last weekend’s 24-10 triumph. The Bears have played just once in seven weeks due to byes, the President’s Cup round, a lights failure and Laidley’s forfeit last weekend.

“It was (disappointing) big time,” Bears coach John Leota said of Laidley’s no show, which robbed them of a much needed hit-out. “We had really good training sessions throughout the week and were looking forward to the game.”

Leota admits it will be a big ask to finish on top of the assured looking Springfield line-up.

“It’s been pretty much five or six weeks since we’ve played a game,” he said. “So we’re coming in very underdone against the Panthers.

“But at least we know we’ve secured fourth spot and can look forward towards the finals.”

Leota’s main focus this week has been on himself, as he returns to the playing ranks for the first time since 2007.

“It adds a bit more experience,” he said of the decision. “So far I think my fitness has been up to scratch at training.”

Leota will play hooker and halfback to provide some direction to the Bears.

“I just want to spread them around a bit and spread some confidence among some players,” he said.

Laidley are scheduled to host Lowood on Saturday afternoon.

Whether they can field a team remains to be seen.