Redmen set the standard in Far North Coast Rugby
By ADRIAN MILLER
THINGS are pretty clear at the top of the Coopers Far North Coast rugby union competition after 10 rounds: The Grafton Redmen would have to choke like the All Blacks at every World Cup since the first in 1987 not to take the minor premiership.
The Redmen showed again on Saturday why they are the premiership favourites with a 36-3 demolition of Casino, which takes them 13 points clear of the second-placed Bulls.
Casino had no answer for the premiers at Grafton on Saturday as they ran out five-try winners.
The Bulls are missing a host of first-graders but coach Mark Collison said that in the end his side was just not good enough.
"We have about eight first-graders out but they were just too good for us," he said.
"All credit to them; they are just a very good side." With the number of players out, Casino were always going to be up against it, but they started well and matched Grafton early.
With Craig Connolly and Adam Bowen leading the way in the forwards, the Bulls' scrum caused Grafton problems and their line-out was impregnable, but it was in the backs that Grafton did the damage.
"We were competitive in the forward pack and provided a pretty even contest there, but when we had the ball we didn't use it and when they had it they scored out wide," Collison said.
"Their backs were just too quick and we didn't defend properly."
Bryan Wirth kicked an early penalty goal for Casino's only score of the game and after Scott Lloyd, Steve Gallagher and Bart McGrath crossed the line, Grafton led 22-3 at half-time.
Casino began to work themselves back into it and had enough possession and territory, but they were unable to breach the Grafton defence.
"Credit to them, they are very hard to score against," Collison said.
"They've only conceded something like 20 points all season so they certainly know what they're doing."
The loss brings Casino back to the field, with only seven points separating them in second place and Southern Cross University in seventh.
Lismore City lose
LISMORE City went down 27-9 to Cool-angatta-Tweed at Lismore Rugby Park on Saturday and they have only themselves to blame, according to coach Nigel Marshall.
Lismore were in good form coming off a morale-boosting win over Casino the previous week, but they conspired to defeat themselves in the 18-point loss.
"We did everything we could do wrong in the second half," Marshall said.
"Every ball we went to take we knocked-on, we took poor options and we missed plenty of tackles.
"Don't take anything away from Cool-angatta-Tweed, though, because they played really well, but our own mistakes cost us."
After a promising start in which Lismore jumped out to a 6-0 lead through the boot of Matt Birmingham, the Baa Baas fought back and headed into half-time 14-9 up.
Lismore were still confident of victory but their multitude of errors in the second 40 minutes proved their downfall.
Marshall praised Ben Paisley, Justin Sant and John Lea for their efforts, but said the team would have to lift for the grudge match against Ballina on Saturday.
"The boys were excited after our win over Casino last week and were looking to take that momentum into the rest of our season, but somehow it didn't work out," Marshall said.
"It would have been good to take last week's form into Saturday and next week, but it wasn't to be."
Gold Rats swamped
SOUTHERN Cross University slumped to their second loss of the season to the Yamba Buccaneers, going down 34-8 at Yamba.
Once again for the Gold Rats, it was a case of what could have been, according to coach Ben Matters.
"We played really well in patches but it was just four- to five-minute blocks where Yamba scored two tries here, two tries there, which put our boys down," he said.
With 10 minutes of the first half remaining and the scores locked at 10-all, Yamba burst the game open with tries to prop Paul Thomson and flanker Grant Rooks to make the score 17-3 at the break.
Uni scored early in the second half through Andrew Carter to reduce the deficit to 17-8 but three more second half tries to Paul Hope, Liam Jones and Tristan Allard sealed the win for Yamba.
"Our backs opened them up and made almost double the number of line breaks, but we didn't take our opportunities and Yamba did," Matters said. , Pioneers prevail !WOLLONGBAR-Alstonville have broken their run of draws by downing Lennox Head 46-8. After consecutive draws, a hat-trick of tries from five-eighth Simon Perkins sealed the win points for the Pioneers. The win takes them to within two points of the top four, but leaves Lennox Head anchored to the bottom of the ladder with no points.