Injured player gets to see grand final
BANGALOW will use the presence of injured team-mate Richie Allen as inspiration as they gun for their third premiership in a row in the Far North Coast village rugby grand final against Evans River at Don Gulley Oval, Kyogle, today. Allen broke his neck while playing for Bangalow earlier this year and as a consequence is a quadriplegic. The club has pitched in to hire a heli-copter to bring the former landscaper and his family down from his Brisbane hospital to watch the match. Gold Coast Helicopters have given organisers a reduced rate, but it will still cost $4400 to get Richard to the game and back to Princess Alexandra Hospital. Katie Richardson, who is helping organise the flight, said Richie struggled when attending a recent rugby union dinner at Bangalow, with the travel from Brisbane very painful. Bangalow is developing an art of grand final inspiration. Last year the team used new resident and former Olympic champion runner Herb Elliott as a pre-match speaker. They played so well in that grand 2final 1that Evans River second-rower Ben Fisher joked that the Killer Whales were trying to lure Elliott as their pre-match speaker this year. Fisher asked Elliott at the recent Far North Coast rugby union player of the year awards. "It was never really an option for him," chuckled Fisher. "He's pretty shy so I don't think he'll come to Evans Head." Bangalow are the raging hot favourites to claim their hat-trick this afternoon. They have beaten Evans River twice this season and have a host of dangermen in their line-up. Leading the charge are pointscoring machines Kerry Jennings, at halfback, and Ben Cummings, at five-eighth. Both can kick penalties from any-where within 50 metres of the goalposts, while backrower Jock Craigie and second-rower Jess Wagner were regular first-graders for Byron Bay for many seasons. Evans will rely on pivot Dale Layland, centre Andrew Yates who scored the late try last Saturday that propelled the Killer Whales into the grand final and No 8 Rob Teoka. The grand final will kick off at 3.10pm. In earlier games, Kyogle take on Woolgoolga in the Bowl final, while Iluka play Richmond Range in the Plate final. The kitty is still a little short to cover the cost of hiring the helicopter for Richie Allen, so anyone who would like to help can call Katie on 0427-717735, or make a donation at the Bangalow Hotel. Teams: BANGALOW: 1 Frazer Hill, 2 Dan Hill, 3 Neil Moran, 4 Jess Wagner, 5 Holger McMasters, 6 Rob Lynch, 7 Simon Leighton, 8 Jock Craigie, 9 Kerry Jennings, 10 Ben Cummings, 11 Chris Bleakley, 12 Nick Hornery, 13 Matt Bleakley, 14 Matt Hill, 15 Dick Collin. Coach: Simon Balcon. EVANS RIVER: 1 Nathan Smith, 2 Dave Mason, 3 Ralph Lohse, 4 Ben Fisher, 5 Brett Lovett, 6 Michael Bryant, 7 Ryan Duncan, 8 Rob Teoka, 9 Les Lewis-Hughes, 10 Dale Layland, 11 Jeff Davey, 12 Andrew Yates, 13 Aaron Scells, 14 Mitchell Campbell, 15 Nathan Gemmel. Coach: Stuart Lundie. Referee: Gervase Bertus. Touch judges: Tony Butcher, Bob Thompson.