Barlow dismisses team-to-beat tag
SOUTHERN Cross University rugby union coach Matt Barlow has dismissed, in his mind, that defending champions Lennox Head is the team to beat given their success over the past years.
His approach is both teams have 15 players on the park at any one time and that they will decide the outcome not history.
And while Lennox has been the form team of the past four seasons - with four consecutive premierships - they are beatable.
Today will be the litmus test for Barlow's theory.
"We are going in relatively confident," Barlow told The Northern Star.
"We've started the season quite well and the enthusiasm is high at the moment, there are a lot of new guys and some older guys that have come back.
"It's a new year and regardless of whether they've (Lennox) won one or four competitions in a row there's only 15 guys out on the field just like us.
"We're going in, like any other game, believing we can win but it is always hard down at Lennox Head on their home ground."
SCU Gold Rats beat Casino 24-8 in the first round but had a bye last week.
"Our only down side is we had a bye last weekend," Barlow said.
"The enthusiasm the guys had coming off a win in both grades against Casino, it was disappointing to have the bye, everyone's got to have it."
The Gold Rats have welcomed back Tom Purcell, Bob White and Brendan Brooke while two players, Murray Wade and Simon Folkes who were to have a season off, are ready to pull on the boots again.
Brooke played for Marist Brothers last year in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition.
"They (Wade and Folkes) watched the game against Casino and decided to dust off the boots," Barlow said.
"They decided they weren't going to have a game this year ... got the bug again and have been at training since."
Barlow is mindful of the ability of Lennox right across the park.
"They have some very, very good players and it is a matter of if they gel as a team at any point of time they are very hard to beat," Barlow said.
"We watched them play Lismore City last weekend and we had a good look at them and saw some areas that we can take them on in and hopefully if we can stick to our game plan it would be a pretty competitive match."
Lennox Head has posted wins over Grafton (36-23) and 32-14 against Lismore to sit atop the ladder.
"To be down at half-time (against Lismore) there were a few worrying signs," Lennox co-coach Paul Jeffery said.
"But we were able to come through that game unscathed and we get to see Uni for the first time.
"I don't think anybody has hit their straps or are a lot better than any other team.
"They had a very good win first up ... the bye was probably at a time they didn't want it ... I expect them to be quite strong."
In other games, Casino hosts Grafton at Albert Park while Wollongbar-Alstonville play Lismore at Lyle Park with all matches to kick off at 3.15pm.
Ballina has the bye.
Lennox Head: 1. Rob Roberts, 2. Jamie Tredinnick, 3. Jack Bungate, 4. Mick Muir, 5. Isaac Foley, 6. Jack Davies, 7. Jeff Wilson (C.),8. Rob Fish, 9. Paul Jeffrey, 10. Mathew Barnes, 11. Brett Horne, 12, Paul Crozier, 13. Kalib Cupples, 14. Lachlan Creagh, 15. Duncan Maguire Coach: Tony Bundock
Southern Cross University: 1.Tom Purcell, 2. Alex Roffey, 3. Daniel Wade, 4. Patrick Wilton, 5. Keith Morris, 6. Rhys McNaughton (C.), 7. Harry Witt, 8. Ben Prozinski, 9. Matt Anderson, 10. Brendan Brooke, 11. Dallas Abel, 12, Bob White, 13. Callum Lenard, 14. Simon Fokes, 15. Will Latham Coach: Matt Barlow
Referee: Steve Williamson
Casino: 1. Cal McLennan, 2. Blake Birmingham, 3. Craig Connolly, 4. Tom Penford, 5. Ben Osborne, 6. Pat Herman, 7. Carl Tahatu (C.), 8. Jarred Newton, 9. Tim Cameron,, 10. Lachlan Winkler, 11. Jake Lyons, 12. Stephen Murchie, 13. Tom Farr, 14. Cale Berry, 15. Brad Wenzel Coach: Darren Winkler
Grafton: 1. Jacob Page, 2. Zac Mason-Gale, 3. Chris Owen, 4. Nick Collie, 5. Ben Robertson, 6. Brad Lloyd, 7. Simon Hampshire, 8. Jono Speechley, 9. Josh Nagle, 10. Kyle Hancock, 11. Nick Collie, 12. Shane Denshire, 13. Scoot Lloyd, 14. Kieran Burchell, 15. Ben Stone Coach: Brad Lloyd
Referee: Mick Melino
Wollongbar Alstonville: 1. Joel Crowther, 2. Kirk Taylor-Brown, 3. Justin Whicker , 4. Lucas Freeburn, 5. Simon Tozer, 6. Joel McMahon, 7. Daniel Mather, 8. Shaun Ellis, 9. Hamish Millane, 10. Jake McIntyre, 11. Andrew Wright, 12, Arlo Cluff, 13. Vincent Chee, 14. James Vidler, 15. Adam Law Coach: Ben Grayndler
Lismore: 1. Eddie Solomona, 2. Stephen Prosser, 3. Matt Collins, 4. Stuart Rose, 5. Ben Briggs, 6. James Olivieri, 7. Heath Conlan, 8. Glenn Paisley, 9. Ben Felicioni, 10. Mark Sivewright, 11. James O'Brien, 12. Nigel Marshall, 13. Ben Slaone, 14. Robbie Collings, 15. Stephen Hughes Coach: Will Cotterill
Referee: Aaron Reid
Ballina - Bye.