Rats run riot over City
By STEVE SPINKS
TWO barnstorming tries by Southern Cross University second-rower Brendan Brooke was the highlight of the the Gold Rats' 31-7 victory over Lismore City in Bangalow Hotel Far North Coast rugby union at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore, on Saturday.
Brooke's contribution and that of second-row partner Henry Vanderglas propelled the Students to the comprehensive victory over their arch rivals and kept the Gold Rats' slim semi-final hopes alive.
Brooke's tries were scored in the second half, running against a strong wind, with his second try a 40-metre beauty in which he beat four defenders.
It also meant SCU earned the important bonus point for scoring four tries.
However, it wasn't just the tries that was impressive about Brooke's performance.
The dynamic second-rower also got around the field and did plenty of work in tight.
Since joining the Gold Rats in 2003 as a winger, the big forward has learned the ropes well to the extent that he is one of the Students' most damaging players.
"Yeah, I thought he had a very good game," SCU coach Matt Want said.
"He and Henry really complement each other well, with Brookesy so strong in tight and Henry with the silky smooth skills around the park."
The second-rowers' scrummaging has also improved to the extent that the Gold Rats dominated the scrum and had a fair share of possession in line-outs.
It was a surprise against a City team that has long held sway in the set pieces.
The front row for Uni was also impressive with props Stu Moore, Dan Richards and hooker Bill Ringland contributing well around the park.
Uni led 17-0 at half-time and forged further ahead shortly after through Brooke.
City hit back with a finely crafted try to fullback Steven Hughes, but it was a rare highlight for the defending premiers.
Brooke scored the Students' final try to put the nail in the coffin late in the game.
Five-eighth Matt Flanagan and wingers Paul Butterfield and Jake Juscszak also played well .
Hughes, No8 Ray Taylor and flanker Heath Conlan were the standouts for City, while inside centre Ben Sloane also went well.
City tried hard but were frustrated by solid Uni defence.
Rick the pick
TWO tries by lightning quick winger Rick Randall in the final 10 minutes of the match delivered Casino a 27-20 victory over Yamba at Yamba Oval.
Randall, who was a late replacement for injured centre Dywayne Corrigan, turned around an indifferent first 40 minutes to salvage the game.
"Rick's one of those blokes who can either win you or lose you a game," Bulls coach Mick Russell said.
"His first three touches he didn't look like catching the ball in the swirling wind.
"But then in his first try, which put us in front, he beat four blokes from nothing."
Randall's two blistering tries were the finale of an exciting match played in difficult windy conditions.
Yamba led 10-7 at half-time after running into the strong wind, but Casino clicked to a 17-10 advantage just after the break.
The home side, inspired by halfback Ben Ralston, hit back and went 20-17 in front until the final 10 minutes when Randall worked his magic.
Besides the flying winger, fullback Clint Lavelle, winger Scott Lambeth and second-rowers Heath Johnston and Marcus McCormack were the pick of the Casino side.
For Yamba, it was another match that slipped through their grasp at the last minute.
It's been a bizarre first season for the Buccaneers.
They are coming last on 11 points with only one victory.
Yet they have managed to scrounge seven bonus points from close losses and by scoring more than four tries.
If the club can keep most of its team for another season, a semi-final position would not be out of the question next year.
Ralston, centre Rob Imeson and prop Anthony Edwards played well for the Buccaneers.
The win gives Casino the lead in the minor premiership.
A MASSIVE improvement from Wollongbar almost gave the Pioneers an upset win over Grafton at Lyle Park, Wollongbar.
However, the Redmen held on to record a 26-20 victory which has moved them a step closer to securing a semi-final position.
The Pioneers were thrashed by Uni last week 73-12 and even the most ardent Wollongbar supporter could see that the locals would be fighting an uphill battle against the in-form Redmen.
But aided by some great contributions from inside centre Nick Henry, five-eighth Nick Glynn, prop Mike Richards and flanker Ryan Hamilton, the home side almost prevailed.
"We were 1000 per cent better this week," coach Dave Graham said. "It was a really good match and we could have got away with it if we'd kicked our goals."
Grafton's ability to score from the set play hurt the Pioneers with fullback Justin Spurway scoring two tries.