By ADRIAN MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org
MARIST Brothers coach Craig Hodges admits his side doesn't have the form on the board to feel confident going into today's elimination semi-final against Lower Clarence Magpies in Maclean. And if you look closely at results in season 2006, you can understand his feelings. In the last five rounds of the NRRRL season Brothers secured six points through byes and forfeits, lost to minor premiers Murwillumbah and beat lowly Tweed Coast Raiders. It was only through these byes and forfeits that they were able to squeak into the final five over a fast-finishing Mullumbimby. They had a couple of big wins against Grafton Ghosts and South Tweed Heads, sides which both missed the finals, but they haven't beaten any of the top five sides since round seven when they triumphed over the Magpies in Lismore by 16 points. But it's finals time, which normally means Brothers must be in with a chance. And if you look back at the club's history, you can see why. The club made every Group 1 grand final from 1992 to 2004, except 1995, winning the competition eight times. But given their poor 2006, by their own admission can they really expect to progress past this weekend? "There is no doubt this club prides itself on finals football and we seem to respond to it really well," Hodges said. "The club seems to lift when it comes into finals and there is an expectation around the place that we will go well." Hodges said it wasn't any secret how Brothers would play the game today, but it was important for his side to execute it properly. "What we have to focus on is our game and reducing our errors," he said. Hodges said his side would be at full-strength for one of the few times this season and was confident the form shown at training the previous weeks would be transferred to the Showground. "Front rower and captain Luke Scott is an important player for us and so is halfback Brent Peterson," he said. "Graham Smallwood, David Krause, Niko Vakararawa and Tim Tredigdo are all fully recovered from their injuries they sustained at different parts throughout the year, so I'm pretty excited about the team." Big test for Turkeys KYOGLE Turkeys' coach Wayne Lollback is well aware of what it means to his club to be playing finals football. After 14 seasons in the rugby league wilderness where they were already on end-of-season trips at this stage of the year, the Turkeys front up against the Cudgen Hornets tomorrow at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff, in the NRRRL qualifying semi-final. It's a huge day for Kyogle, but Lollback was keen to downplay its significance. "The club is proud of us and there is a good feeling about the place and I will make the boys aware of the history," he said. "But I don't want to put any extra pressure on the players so it's important for them to just concentrate on playing footy." Kyogle head to Kingscliff tomorrow knowing they can emerge triumphant, having destroyed the Hornets by 28 points earlier in the year but also well aware that their away form is far from impressive. They remained undefeated at home but won only two games away from New Park all season ? both against teams who missed out on the finals. Lollback said his side would try a few different strategies to over come the hoodoo, although he wasn't keen to reveal the secrets. "I think the players are just getting over that psychological problem of winning away," he said. "We have won away from home against some understrength opposition but it's time now to forget about that and do the job." Kyogle will be able to 'do the job' if their backs fire. If five-eighth Walter Donnelly is allowed to call the shots, fullback Shannon Walker and centres Garnett Donnelly and Rod Graham are dangerous from anywhere and could run riot."
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