WOODLAWN centre Chris Binge evades a Campbelltown opponent yesterday on the way to a victory in the Cochrane Cup Statewide semi
WOODLAWN centre Chris Binge evades a Campbelltown opponent yesterday on the way to a victory in the Cochrane Cup Statewide semi

Long road home



I was talking to an ex-St Joseph's (Trinity) student last week and he told me of the clashes that they used to have with Woodlawn during the 1960s.

He told me that the when they played them at Rec 9, near the Trinity College, the Woodlawn team was bought into town for the game in the back of an old green Bedford truck driven by one of the priests.

While Woodlawn won most of the clashes between the two schools, the St Joseph's lads were very happy to play well and push the Woodlawn boys.

Apparently, if the priest who drove them in wasn't happy with the way they played, he made the boys run back to the college while he followed in the truck ... a run of about 5km.

Junior grand finals

ALL roads will lead to the Maclean Showground this Saturday for the Group One Junior League grand finals.

In what has been a bumper year for the kids, I am expecting some great footy.

The combatants in this years grand finals are:

9am: Under 10 Lennox Head v Ballina.

9.50am: Under 11 Clarence Coast v Ballina.

10.40am: Under 12 Grafton v Ballina.

11.30am: Under 13 Marist Brothers v Ballina.

12.30pm: Under 14 Kyogle v Marist Brothers.

1.30pm: Under 15 Sth Grafton v Ballina or Byron Bay.

2.40pm: Under 16 Marist Brothers v South Grafton.

I have special interest in the Under 13 game, as I coach the Brothers side.

I can honestly say I'm looking forward to the game as much as any of the grand finals I played in.

The Ballina side we are playing is a very good one and there is a good rivalry between the two.

Good Luck to all, enjoy your day!

Mustangs ride on

MURWILLUMBAH won through to this weekend's Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final at Murwillumbah with a convincing 34-12 victory over Marist Brothers.

On the back of a dominant forward pack and the brilliance of fullback Shannon Murphy, the Mustangs showed enough to suggest that this week's decider will be a very close match.

Speaking to coach Con Theodossiou after the match, he was very happy with the improvement his side showed from their display in the major semi against Tweed Seagulls.

Players who impressed me were Lionel Foster, who got through a ton of work and the front-row of Steve Kirkham and Lyndon Murphy, who set the platform.

Brothers, on the other hand, didn't play with their usual composure and seemed to go away from the game plans that got them to the final.

However, they should be proud of what the have done this season, and it should stand them in good stead for next year.

How will the decider pan out?

If the Mustangs can get an even share of possession I can see their forwards testing the smaller Tweed outfit, and there is enough pace out wide to finish any half-chances.

Tweed will look to play a fast-paced game and try and tire the bigger Mustangs.

Halfback Daniel Evans is the key for the Seagulls.

If he can get a good kicking game going and have the Mustangs bring the ball off their own line then Seagulls will be hard to beat.

The game is being played on the Mustangs' ground and only twice since 1980 have visiting sides knocked over the home side in grand finals, 1992 and 2001, Marist Brothers beating Ballina both times.

TIP: Murwillumbah in a close one, maybe six points.

Reserve Grade

TWEED Seagulls never really looked tested in their win over Murwillumbah last weekend and will be a tough proposition for Ballina in this grand final.

Ballina will go into the clash full of confidence after their win in the major semi.

This match is hard to tip but I'll stick with Tweed, as they have been the best side all year. But they better not take the Ballina side lightly or a repeat of the major semi is on the cards.

Under 18s

THE Under 18 grand final sees the minor premier Tweed Seagulls taking on the Kyogle side.

I remember this time last year Kyogle went into the grand final against Ballina as underdogs and coming away with a great win and that is what I am tipping here.

Passion and spirit are overlooked a lot, but get along this weekend and you'll see plenty of both when the Turkeys hit town, led by the team's number one supporter Mel Constable.

Kyogle coach Wayne Lollback should be congratulated on getting the boys to another grand final.

Winning a grand final is tough, but defending one is a lot harder.

Kyogle are in with a great chance of winning back-to-back titles, but will have to overcome a good Tweed side that took all before it during the season.

My tip: KYOGLE to keep the fairytale going.

Seagull trifecta

WHILE I have tipped Tweed to only win one grand final, the club should be congratulated on getting all three grades through.

Not since Marist Brothers in 1999 has a club managed to win all three deciders.

I know they will be keen to win, seeing they are leaving the NRRRL next year to compete in the Mixwell Cup in Brisbane. They have definitely been the benchmark.

I also caught up with an old mate of mine Glen Workman, who is the conditioner for the Tweed sides. Worko was the trainer when I played over in England for the London Broncos and I can assure you that there will be no side fitter than the Seagulls.

Good bloke, but I bet he's been cheering for the poms.

Game-breakers

THE two players I believe hold the key to the decider are Mustangs hooker Jarrod Brown and Seagulls halfback Daniel Evans.

Brown is a hooker of NRL class. If his forward pack can assert their dominance, he will cause all sorts of headaches for the Tweed defence and he is a strong defender round the middle of the ruck.

Meanwhile, Evans is the catalyst for all Tweed's attack. When he is on his game they are very hard to handle. He has a very astute kicking game and I expect him to be targeted in defence.

Whistle blowers

The first week of the finals in the NRL had its share of ref troubles, especially Tony Archer's performance in the Cronulla vs St George match. He didn't seem capable of keeping the two sides apart and also missed a couple of forward passes that proved critical.

I thought Dion Aldridge did a pretty good job in the Murwillumbah versus Brothers match last Sunday and hopefully he will be rewarded with this weekend's grand final.

Dion has had to bide his time behind a few senior referees and it is good to see him finally getting the big matches. Good Luck to the officials this weekend, they are under as much pressure as anyone.



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