Hockey comp closest yet
By JIM CHALLENOR
THE JH Williams Premier Hockey League this year has been highlighted by the improved performances of the previous 'easybeat' men's teams.
The competition is set to be the closest yet, and even selecting the top four teams is probably a long odds bet.
Ballina, while very competitive, have lost a little of their invincibility.
Coraki, on the other hand, are probably just as strong but maybe a little susceptible to teams such as Waratahs, who maintain the pressure for 70 minutes.
Capri were left to regroup and ponder their season after copping a pasting from Waratahs, while Mudgeeraba started their season in scintillating fashion at home against Vipers.
Given the spread of teams and venues, travelling is a telling factor.
With clubs fielding teams in multiple grades, covering the top team on the road can test a club's depth.
At Hepburn Park, Goonellabah, today, Northern Star come up against Ballina at 2.55pm.
Star come in underdone after missing some games through byes and deferrals.
Ballina are settling well and will be favoured, but Star have beaten Ballina.
In the other match, Alstonville and East Lismore will meet at 5.45pm.
Alstonville have most of their players back and should be ready to make amends for their 8-1 drubbing last week.
Easts also will be smarting from their last-gasp loss to the Mullumbimby Taipans, so this game should be an even affair.
At Barrie Smith Oval, Murwillumbah, the effervescent Mullum Taipans will be at home to Coraki at 2.25pm.
In their previous outing on this field, the Taipans frightened the life out of Ballina.
And while Coraki's experience should see them over the line today, the Mullum team will fight to the final whistle.
In the 3.50pm game, Kingscliff take on Burleigh, then at 5.15pm it's Redbacks against Mudgeeraba.
The other Murwillumbah game is at 12 noon tomorrow with United Vipers meeting Burleigh in a match deferred from the first round.
At Hunt Park, Labrador, tomorrow, Waratahs Bobcats meet Labrador at 4pm.
In probably the pick of the round, it's difficult to see the Bobcats troubled, but at home Labrador may be hard to toss.
In the other match, Allstars travel to meet Capri at 5.30pm.