HITCHING A RIDE: Grant Thompson (Cudgen) tackles Jamie Quinn (Ballina) during the Retravision Northern League match at Kingsfor
HITCHING A RIDE: Grant Thompson (Cudgen) tackles Jamie Quinn (Ballina) during the Retravision Northern League match at Kingsfor

Introspective coaches are giving little away

IT'S A clich? that Chris Binge and Vince Nicklin are sporting for their Retravision Northern League clash this weekend, but in the case of the Ballina Seagulls and Byron Bay Red Devils it's an apt one. 'We're just focusing on ourselves and not worrying too much about the other team' is what both coaches are saying and, after recent performances, it makes sense. Byron Bay lost to Casino RSM a fortnight ago and only just beat Kyogle last week after leading by 30 points at half time while by Binge's own admission his side 'didn't play too well' in beating Cudgen last Sunday. Ballina may be three points clear at the top of the ladder, haven't lost since the second round and coming off a 20-point win, but coach Binge and his players aren't satisfied. "We didn't play too well last week even though we got the win," he said. "At the end of the day it was a scrappy win and we're conscious of the fact we need to do a lot of hard work to maintain the level we're at." That level has seen the side unbeaten since April and playing at a standard which has resulted in wins in all but three of their games by 20 points or more. Given their run you would expect the Seagulls to be confident against a Red Devils side with two patchy performances in the past fortnight, but Binge said they weren't getting ahead of themselves. "This will be a tough game for both sides," he said. "We're still long way off from being where we need to be but we know that if we play at our best we can compete with Byron." Byron Bay coach Nicklin knows his side has what it takes to beat Ballina but they will need to address a shocking recent defensive run. After nine weeks the Red Devils had conceded only 88 points; now, after 11 games, that has blown out to 151 points. Nicklin said his side needed to address their mental application. "Each individual's mindset hasn't been right and we need to address that," he said. "We are going into the game knowing Ballina are on top and one of the best teams in the comp and that we will have to be on our game to topple them. "We can't do any more than what we have on the training paddock so it's a case of each player getting tougher in the mind and making a personal commitment to each other. Nicklin said last week's performance, where Byron led Kyogle by 30 points at half-time and won by only six, could not be repeated. "We need that character and hunger to not just settle for a first- or second-half effort," he said. "We're going to give them a good go for it we're due for bigger and better things." , Turkeys' tough trip !THINGS don't get any easier for the Kyogle Turkeys this weekend. Fresh from their rousing second- half performance against Byron Bay last Sunday they are away to Murwillumbah, which had a 10-point away win over Casino RSM. Even though Kyogle have won only three games, they are just a few points out of the top five and if they can produce 80 minutes similar to last week's second half they will trouble an up-and-down Mustangs. Marist Brothers should boost their for and against when they play South Grafton at Crozier Field, Lismore, this afternoon. The Rebels are yet to win a game this year and the Rams will be full of confidence after they put finals aspirant Lower Clarence to the sword. Casino RSM travel to Grafton to take on a Ghosts outfit on a high after their second win of the year. It was against the Rebels, but the Cougars can't take them lightly. Casino are only one win out of the finals and could place real pressure on the other clubs fighting for spots with a win tomorrow. Elsewhere, Tweed Coast Raiders are at home to Lower Clarence and Cudgen take on South Tweed. Mullumbimby has the bye.

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