Brethren look to heavens

By Steve Spinks

MARIST Brothers may be forced to hold their Retravision Northern League elimination semi-final against Byron Bay on neutral territory if Lismore's Oakes Oval remains closed.

Depending on the weather in the next 24 hours, the Brethren could move their match to Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, relinquishing the home ground advantage.

A decision on Oakes Oval is expected this morning from the Lismore City Council, but with the ground scheduled to host soccer and rugby union grand finals in the next few weeks, it's a tough call.

"All grounds are closed at the moment," council's parks and gardens co-ordinator Martin Soutar said. "We'll cross that bridge (Saturday's match) when we come to it, but obviously we want the game to be played at Oakes."

Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League secretary Doug Harrison suggested Queen Elizabeth Park could be made available.

"Brothers don't have much choice," he said. "The match has to be played on Saturday, but there is a meeting tonight (Thursday) and we can run through some options with them."

Another possibility is holding the match at Red Devil Park, Byron Bay.

Marist Brothers president Terry Dardengo said the club didn't have a contingency plan.

"They (the council) have spent a lot of money making sure Oakes Oval has good drainage so hopefully it will work well enough for us to play," he said.

"We have no back-up plan whatsoever. If we have to we may go to Casino but we wouldn't go to Byron."

There is also some doubt that the Tweed Coast Raiders' home ground at Cabarita can recover to host the qualifying semi-final against Ballina on Sunday.

n Grafton remain confident of hosting the Far North Coast rugby union semi-finals tomorrow despite the weather. With two fields available to the seniors, games may be split between the grounds to relieve pressure on the main field.

n Junior soccer could be thrown into disarray this weekend with some semi-finals scheduled.

Football FNC suggests players and parents phone their team coach or listen to announcements in local media to see if their matches are on.

Alternatively, phone the Lismore City Council wet weather hotline on 6627.4111.

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