The Perth Spirit has reached the midway point for their NRC campaign (remembering they have a round eight bye), and is sitting on a not so satisfying record.
Admittedly, the team does have quite an easy run home, but to cement a position in the finals they will most likely need to win their last four games.
Winning these games would secure the West Australian side a position in the finals, and would put them on the road against one of the top two sides.
This weekend they travel to Brookvale Oval to face the North Harbour Rays, who are a team sitting at 1-2, very similar to the Spirits 1-3 record with the only difference being the Rays early round bye.
Coming off a tough loss to the Melbourne Rising on the primetime Thursday night game, Perth will be looking for a big win to boost their percentage, as well as their position on the ladder.
The Rays defence seems to have been their burden throughout this competition, as they have put on some good offensive showings, scoring points in bunches, but they just give up too many.
Perth’s offence will need to capitalise this, which could be easy when you look at the likes of Dillyn Leyds, Brad Lacey and Force contracted players like Junior Rasolea and Marcel Brache who both command a backline very well at this level.
This then leads into the next dilemma for the Spirit.
Do they play an almost entire Western Force squad to win four games in a row and make the finals?
Or, do they not worry about the finals and look for depth in their Premier Grade players?
The obvious answer for many fans, especially rugby purists would be to play an almost full Premier Grade squad, with a few Force players in the mix to lead the charge.
This would make complete sense, as playing a starting lineup with 12 out of 15 Western Force players did not work against Brisbane City in Perth, and uncovering local talent is what the NRC is all about.
It’s seems as if this game was almost completely wasted when you look at the purpose of the competition.
Looking at it from RugbyWA’s perspective however, it is easy to see why they wanted to do this.
Having Force players 20 metres away from the main supporters area is going to draw a huge crowd.
When the Spirit played at McGillivray Oval, I sat about 10 metres back, right on the 50 metre line and it was amazing to hear Kyle Godwin, Marcel Brache and Junior Rasolea command their backline first hand.
When it comes time to play the Sydney Stars at HBF Arena, it is hard to predict what approach the squads management will take.
It will most likely depend on the result of this weekend in Brookvale, and whether or not the squads Premier Grade players have been performing.
Another possible situation is that by this point the coaching staff has decided which Premier Grade players are the ones who have a legitimate chance, and they will play them amongst a squad.
The obvious standout for the Spirit is flyhalf/fullback Dillyn Leyds who easily has a shot at getting a Super Rugby contract.
His offensive game is refined, absolutely phenomenal, and his defence is fine.
Leyds is sitting at an equal second place for number of tries scored in the whole league, at four.
Oliver Hoskins is another player who the coaching staff will want to step up, after the departure of Kieran Longbottom who moved to English team Saracens.
The unanswered questions remain in the hands of RugbyWA, the coaching staff and the selectors, but to make use of this competition but ultimately, they should be running the younger squad.
What would you do in this situation?