Rovers want to add Anzac Cup
By MARK ROBINSON AFTER winning the premiership double in Football Far North Coast's Premier League last season, the elusive Tursa Anzac Cup remains the only piece of silverware missing from Richmond Rovers' trophy cabinet.
Despite accumulating a total of 14 premiership titles over the years, Rovers have won the Anzac Cup twice in 40 attempts.
But tonight they open their campaign to hold all three titles for the first time, when they meet Goonellabah at Weston Park from 8pm.
Rovers will field a similar lineup to last season, despite the loss of striker Matthew Olley and midfielders Chris Simmons and Scott Coster, who is now coaching the side.
Retiring coach Tim Sheridan stood down to focus on playing, but will probably start from the bench after sustaining a niggling hamstring strain, as will Tim Cassagrande with a similar complaint.
Aaron Heffernan will move to striker for Sheridan and Russell Dent will slot in wide for Cassagrande, leaving assistant coach Noel Field confident.
"We'll stick to our winning formula of a 3-5-2 pattern but will need to guard against complacency after the success of last year, but most of the players are at an age when they're maturing into the peak of their careers, so I'm expecting a strong first-up performance and a good season overall," Field said.
While Rovers go into the game as favourites, the Hornets new-look side under incoming coach Peter Ware will play the same formation and use attack as the best form of defence in search of an upset.
Dave Arnett and new signing from Maclean Jarrad Doyle will combine as strikers, with Kale Hopper and another new signing in Scott Henschell looking to provide quality ball from midfield.
With Daniel Morrow and another Maclean signing in Broden Hirst out wide, the Hornets' midfield looks dangerous and could be the key to disrupting Rovers hopes for a successful start to their cup campaign.
A second match will be played tonight when Lennox Head host Italo Stars from 7pm, before the remaining three matches of the first round are played on Sunday.
Both the Sharks and Stars are under-strength with at least five players missing from both squads, leaving much of the focus on the performance of 2006 Player of the Year Ben Andrews in his debut with Lennox after leaving Goonellabah.
Andrews will partner the 2006-07 golden boot winner and player-coach of the Sharks Paul Kirkland up front.
They could develop into one of the most deadly striking combinations in the league.