HUNTER Wildfires women face a race against time to put together a fit squad for the must-win clash with high flyers Randwick.
The Wildfires a string of injuries, including issues to four front-rowers, in a bruising 40-3 loss to Western Sydney at Lidcome Oval on Saurday.
The defeat dropped the Wildfires to sixth spot on 20 points, five adrift of Warringah and Eastern Suburbs. The top five progress to the semi-finals.
Hunter need to pip second-place Randwick and hope that Warringah are beaten by Western Sydney or Easts go down to leaders Sydney University.
For now, the Wildfires are worried about having 15 fit players.
"We are hoping a few recovery quickly," said co-captain Tammy Clay, who succumbed to a calf injury midway through the first half against the Two Blues.
As well as Clay, Skye Lovett (knee), Maryann Utai (head knock), Steph Klimovitch (knee), Kaitlin Leaney and Sophie Clance (shoulder) were forced from the field.
"We ran out of troops," Clay said. "We had four front-rowers go down and ended up having to go uncontested scrums. They just wore us down. We couldn't get the ball and when we did we tried to make the miracle pass and it didn't come off. They swooped on our errors and capitalised."
Lovett appears the most serious.
"Skye heard some popping in her knee, which is not a good sign," Clay said.
Wallaroos fullback Mahalia Murphy scored a brace and NSW Super W fly-half crossed for a try and landed five conversions.
"Mahalie was incredible," Clay said. "She can turn on a dime, shift off either leg and doesn't lose any speed. They are a very well-drilled team and out-gunned us."