Fierce rugby league rivals clash
By ADRIAN MILLER firstname.lastname@example.org MULLUMBIMBY and Marist Brothers rugby league clubs might get on a little better than Russell Crowe and Nick Politis, but that doesn't meant this weekend's clash between the two sides won't be fierce. Round 10 of the Retravision Northern League pits the two against each other for the first time this season in a clash vital to both sides. Brothers are two points out of the top five in eighth position and even though Mullumbimby are second, a loss at Oakes Oval, Lismore, tomorrow would see them lose that spot. And with them next facing the Tweed Coast Raiders, who courtesy of the bye this week will replace them in second should they lose, they could see themselves further down the pecking order. Making things tougher for the Giants is that they will be without star player Brett Whitton, who was suspended for four games by the NRRRL judiciary during the week. While Whitton has a month off there was better news for Mullum five-eighth Travis Drought, who was handed a two-week suspended sentence. Coach Damon Scott said Whitton would be a huge loss for the team. "Defensively, especially, he'll be a massive loss," Scott said. "He and Brett Archibald have been leading our defensive stats all year so the boys will really need to muscle up and lift to cover his absence. "He's also a great leader on the field and we will miss that." Mullum's only loss of the season came in May against a rampaging Ballina and with Brothers losing last week the Giants will start favourites. But only just. "It doesn't matter where Brothers are on the ladder they are always dangerous," Scott said. "They'll be tough across the park and we will need to be dominant in attack, slow down the play-the-ball and not give them any room to move. "But if we aim up in defence and complete our sets of six we'll be in with a good show." While the clash is important for Mullum, it's vital for Brothers. They're already two points out of the top five and with an away game against fifth-placed Lower Clarence next weekend, a loss could seriously jeopardise their finals aspirations. Making things harder for Brothers is this week's draw, which gives every side in the top five a likely win. The Rams will also be without star players Brett Spears and Roderick McFarlane, who are in the UK with the Australian Universities side. Brothers coach David Krause said that while he believed his side was playing better football than its ladder position suggested, they were desperate for the points. "I've been happy with the way we've been playing this past month but at the end of the day all that matters is the two points," he said "We can't continue to play well for 75 minutes and not win so it's important we stay focused the entire game." Mullumbimby v Brothers games are always fiercely contested and Krause expects another tough game tomorrow. "It's definitely one of the games our guys look forward to and I'm sure it's the same for them," he said. n Ballina Seagulls are on top of the Retravision Northern League ladder, but they face a danger game away to South Tweed tomorrow. South Tweed are sixth and Seagulls coach Chris Binge knows his charges will need to be at the top of their game to beat the Bears, who are coming off a heart-breaking one-point loss to Lower Clarence. "Every week is a danger game but saying that we're pretty happy with the way we're travelling," Binge said. "I've only watched them once this year and they have a really good forward pack." n Byron Bay is at home to Casino RSM tomorrow and although the Red Devils are fourth, they are desperate for the win. They are one game behind the Tweed Coast Raiders in third, but with the Raiders having the bye this weekend they will be four points off the pace should the Cougars upset them. "We've been apprehensive in approaching this game because you don't know what Casino is capable of," Byron Bay coach Vince Nicklin said. "So we're focusing on ourselves and I want our guys to start right from the whistle, not halfway through the first half like we have been doing." Nicklin also expects his side to show their attacking intent. "Our defensive record is a great tribute to the guys but in saying that we haven't really showed our flair," he said. "This is an opportunity to do so because we've passed the halfway mark of the season and it's time to start doing it." n Kyogle will head to Cudgen tomorrow eager to snare another two points. The Turkeys put a dent in finals aspirants South Tweed last weekend and will be keen to record their first back-to-back wins of the season. Coach Wayne Lollback has been forced to make a host of changes, with halves Boydie Walker and Walter Donnelly both missing. But the Turkeys have the talent to cover the losses and should account for the struggling Cudgen Hornets.