AARON Ison is confident it isn’t asking too much for Port Macquarie’s mixed open team to make the finals at the State Cup.
Ison’s crew are one of seven the association will field from Friday at Regional Stadium and Tuffins Lane.
They couldn’t have had a better preparation heading into the annual event after falling at the final hurdle in NSW Hunter Western Hornets Championships in Maitland in October.
A Country Championship success then followed in Dubbo four weeks ago, but the Makos captain believes his team are still a few steps behind their Sydney counterparts.
“(The Country Championships are) probably the best stepping stone we could have, but there’s still a bit of a gap between what we did at Dubbo and State Cup,” he said.
“We’ve done all we can in the last four weeks, but you don’t get the hard hit outs that the Sydney teams do leading into a State Cup.”
Ison is confident Port Macquarie won’t have too many problems qualifying for the championship division with a good performance on Friday.
“Without sounding too cocky, the games on Friday will probably be a bit substandard and are a bit of a warm-up for Saturday,” he said.
“We’re confident we’ll go through the A-division on Friday and then the hard games really start on day two.”
The top three from each division on Saturday progress to the finals on Sunday and Ison knows Easts Roosters will be the team to beat.
“They’ve been in the last eight or 10 grand finals and have won something like five of them,” he said.
Ison expects Port Hunter to challenge the Makos as the best performed regional team in the division as they both shoot for semi-final positions.
The two teams fought out the finals in both Maitland and Dubbo.
“I think semi-finals are a realistic goal for us to achieve,” he said.
The mixed opens start their State Cup campaign on Friday against the Cammeray Machines at 8.35am on field two.
They then take on Hills Hornets at 12.05pm on field 19.