Giant clash at the Bay
Steve Spinks firstname.lastname@example.org MULLUMBIMBY coach Damon Scott has warned his players to be on their best behaviour when the Giants lock horns with arch-rivals Byron Bay in the final round of the Retravision Northern League at Red Devil Park, Byron Bay, tomorrow afternoon.
With Byron Bay coach Vince Nicklin involved in an inflammatory interview with Rugby League Week published last Wednesday, Scott is worried his players may get carried away with the hype surrounding the local derby. "I've given my boys a strict warning not to start anything," Scott said.
"We can't afford to lose anyone to suspension with the finals coming up.
"This weekend is really no different to any other weekend. We have a good rivalry with Byron and it's usually played in good spirits.""
However, the local derby gained momentum at the beginning of the season when Byron forfeited all grades because of a scheduling debacle between the clubs.
Add to this the fact that Mullum have to win to ensure they clinch the minor premiership and that Byron are competitive for the first time in years, all the indicators point to an intense match.
Nicklin, who played a season with the Giants in the 90s, really let loose in his interview with RLW.
"There is a lot of tension between the two sides and I wouldn't be surprised if it blows up in punches," Nicklin was quoted as saying.
"We had a group meeting the other day and both clubs came together and a few words were said ... it's going to ensure this weekend's clash will have plenty of fire and emotion."
The Byron mentor also took a shot at the Mullum supporters in relation to not wanting to play at Mullumbimby on a Saturday night, which contributed to the forfeited matches. "They (the supporters) come down from the hills and their fans get into the grog ... why would we want to play a Saturday night game?" the article said.
However, Scott believes Nicklin's interview is all a ploy. "We don't read too much into what Vince has to say," Scott said. "Everyone knows what he's like. "He's trying to talk up the match, but we don't think it's that big a deal."
While the two backlines match up evenly, Mullumbimby look to have an advantage in the forwards, especially with second-rower Jay Hampson overcoming a leg injury and being cleared to play.
First grade is scheduled to kick-off at 2.45pm.
Teams MULLUMBIMBY: Fullback, Murray Brown; wingers, Chad Grant, Jye Hitchock; centres, Jamie Coote, Joel Christie; five-eighth, Travis Drought; halfback, Troy Johnstone; props, Rick Oxley, Joe Robinson; hooker, Robbie Wark; second-rowers, Brett Archibald, Jay Hampson; lock, Damien Bryant. Coach: Damon Scott.
BYRON BAY: Fullback, Ryan O'Connell; wingers, Duane Cahill, Alex Niemack; centres, Tobin Cupples, Clarence Kelly; five-eighth, Nathan Cross; halfback, Jared De Thierry; props, Simon Kelly, Ash Laffranchi; hooker, David Black; second-rowers, Michael Lambert, Ben Hill; lock, Alex Butschies. Interchange: Reece Vincent. Coach: Vince Nicklin.