Priceless ?Old Masters

by David Krause

WHILE my family accused me of whingeing when I said that I'm not doing anything this time of year, the one thing I am looking forward to is the Masters games later this month.

I'll be playing Oztag with a heap of old Brothers team-mates.

The names Love, Macrae, Hodges, Whitby, Dardengo, Maher and Latta used to strike fear into opposition league sides for years and we are set to reunite for the Masters.

Only trouble is, you can't tackle or run over the opposition, so it looks like there will have to be a change of tactics.

Hope Woodsy is in town that weekend. Remember Des, the tags are on their shorts, not on their chins.


IT was great to pick up The Northern Star on Saturday and see a positive story on junior rugby league. There could not have been a better person to profile than Danny Lee, a bloke who has been to the top and is now putting back into the game.

What a great day Saturday was for the semi-finals out at Woodlawn.

The gala day was a big hit with all the mini league players.

Good luck to all the mothers out there because that was the last game for the mini players ... guess you'll have to find other ways now to tire the 'terrors' out.

A special mention must go to the Evans Head Under 11s who won the minor semi on Saturday after winning two play-off matches during the previous week. Great effort, guys.

Congratulations to the following, who now progress to the grand finals at Maclean on September 17: U/10 Lennox Head, U/11 Clarence Coast, U/12 Grafton, U/13 Marist Brothers, U/14 Kyogle, U/15 South Grafton, U/16 Marist Brothers.

This Saturday the preliminary finals will be held at Byron Bay.

Soaring 'Gulls

SEAGULLS of two species went straight through to the BCU Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final following the weekend.

Tweed Seagulls won the first grade and Under 18 major semis, while Ballina's version of the Seagulls produced a marvellous effort to inflict the first defeat on the Tweed Seagulls side in reserve grade.

These sides have the week off and play the winners of this weekend's preliminary finals at Murwillumbah.

I got a phone call from a very happy Ballina reserve grade coach, Max Beecher, on Sunday night to let me know they had beaten the unbeatables.

I played a bit of footy with Max in rep sides over the years and he was a very intense bloke.

That intensity and passion have rubbed off on his side because the 21-20 result they achieved was outstanding.

Tweed were the red-hot favourites but the Ballina boys dug deep to get away with the extra-time win.

One sour note was the treatment of the Ballina side, who were not allocated a proper dressing room and forced to get ready in the referees' rooms. A squad of 20 getting ready in a room that only seats 15 is not good enough.

However, it made the Ballina victory even sweeter, so Max reckons.

Following the 34-10 minor semi-final win, Marist Brothers have now strung together 13 wins in a row and have a lot of confidence in themselves.

They are doing the little things well and are as good a defensive side as I have seen in a long time.

It could come down to the likes of Murwillumbah's Shannon Murphy or Brothers' Niko Vakararawa to decide the final result and a grand final opponent for Tweed Seagulls.

The battle of the hookers ? Scott Gibson (Bros) and Jarred Brown (Murbah) ? will be a highlight, with both electric out of dummy half.

My tip: Brothers to keep their run going, but they'll have to work hard.

Referee rage

THE first round of the finals produced a bit of refereeing controversy, especially the Marist Brothers versus Cudgen minor semi.

Cudgen coach Jamie Mathiou was less than happy with referee Peter O'Connor's display, and while there were a few calls that could have gone either way, I thought 'Pencil' had a pretty good game.

As one Cudgen player said to me after the match: "The ref didn't miss the tackles."

The thing about refereeing is your only ever going to keep half the people happy.

After two weeks of rotations it will be interesting to see who the referee will be in the grand final.

Fond farewells

THE match on Saturday could well be the last for a couple of Cudgen players. Andrew King and Troy Dickinovski told me they are planning to retire and must be congratulated on wonderful careers.

Kingy played football at the highest level in both Australia and England, and I was lucky enough to play a season with him at Brothers in 1994, when we won the comp.

Dicko was one of the best footballers to ever come out of Woodlawn, where he was Player of the Year in the national schoolboy comp back in 1990, an award the likes of Peter Sterling, Ben Elias and Greg Alexander have won.

Kingy and Dicko were teammates in the 1990 side that was beaten in the final of the national competition, the best result for a Country school.

I can remember Troy as a cocky little 13-year-old at school and watching him play last weekend nothing much has changed.

At a match early this season, Cudgen were leading 50-0 or so and the Mullum team were attacking; Dicko was barking orders at Kingy, when all of a sudden a Mullum bloke put a grubber through, got a lucky bounce and scored.

As Cudgen stood behind the goal line, Dicko kept going at Kingy, telling him he should have been there to stop it ... just like back in school. Best of luck to them, great footballers, better blokes.

Lack of timing

IT's great to see that the powers to be have brought back the presentation night, but if I have one criticism it is that the night should be held after the grand final, so the winners can be recognised.

As it is, the awards night is this Friday night at the Lismore Workers Club.

There wasn't a presentation night last year because of dwindling numbers at the previous few, so it is up to all clubs to make sure that they are well represented.

Electric Eels

COULD this be the year Parramatta coach Brian Smith gets the monkey off his back?

If Smith could choose which player not to lose to injury, I reckon Nathan Hindmarsh's name may have come up.

He is the heart and soul of the side and does the work of two players.

Someone will have to stand up and fill the hole he will leave.

The Dragons were lucky to beat the Knights last weekend and had a few weaknesses exploited but I still think they are the team to beat.

They have class right across the paddock and apart from Matthew Head have no injury worries.

The Broncos look like a tired side but with the quality of players they have, must be respected.

Manly and Cronulla will be the first two teams eliminated from the finals and the West Tigers are beginning to look a little shaky.

The three form sides in the past six weeks have been the competition's bottom three.

Magic Milton

AFTER starting the season with the Ballina club and then being signed by the Newcastle Knights, it was great to see Milton Thaiday make such an impact in his first season.

Week after week he is among the best players for the Knights and with a big off-season ahead of him I expect him to be even better next season and maybe push for a Country Origin spot.

Carl, you're a ...

THIS is the time of year where all teams are looking for their class players to stand up and lead by example.

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, one of their stars decided to stand up, but then king hit an opponent.

Carl Webb is now facing a lengthy suspension that will see him miss the Cowboys' finals assault.

In an incident not unlike the Danny Williams punch, Webb's actions were inexcusable and he has jeopardised his team's chances. Such a pity ... on his day Webb is one of the most destructive forwards in the game, but it is things like this that continue to hinder his career.

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