CHIEF PROTAGONIST: Wollongbar-Alstonville second-rower Matt Scott on the run for the Pioneers against Ballina in FNC rugby.
CHIEF PROTAGONIST: Wollongbar-Alstonville second-rower Matt Scott on the run for the Pioneers against Ballina in FNC rugby. Vicki Kerry

'Chief' the heart and soul of Pioneers

WOLLONGBAR-Alstonville second-rower Matt Scott will play in a seventh straight Far North Coast rugby union grand final when he lines up against Lennox Head at Crozier Field in Lismore today.

He will be joined in the forwards by prop Matt Wright and second-row partner Steve Mison, who have won four straight premierships since 2014.

Scott, 34, is the only survivor from the 2012 grand final team that lost to Lennox Head.

The Trojans finished that season by winning a fifth straight grand final - a feat the Pioneers are hoping to emulate today.

Coach Ern Sandral came on board this season and one of the first things he did was make a Scott a co-captain alongside NSW Country five-eighth Ben Damen.

"It's a monumental effort for Chief (Scott), especially considering his position on the field and the way he plays the game,” Sandral said.

"He's been the heart and soul of the team for a long time now and having him here has been a big plus for us.

"He's actually been carrying a knee injury for the past six weeks and probably won't be going out there 100 percent but you know what to expect from him.”

Flankers Austin Markwort and Nick Pennisi and winger Daniel Damen are the only players in the starting side not to have won a first grade premiership at the club.

Hooker Bill Johnston is another experienced senior player, along with Damen, Scott, Wright and Mison.

"I don't think we would have won all those grand finals without the longevity of these guys and the standards they've set,” Sandral said.

"Lennox Head are a determined team and we'll have to start well and execute a lot better to beat them.

"We're pretty confident.

"You have to make the most of it because it has taken a whole season to get here.

"You know there is more at stake but you still have to enjoy the build-up and play smart rugby.”

FIRST GRADE (at 3.30pm)

Wollongbar-Alstonville: 1 Matthew Wright, 2 Bill Johnston, 3 Benji Tiatia, 4, Matt Scott (c), 5 Steven Mison, 6 Nick Pennisi, 7 Austin Markwort, 8 Hamish Mould, 9 Louis Hollman, 10 Ben Damen (c), 11 Daniel Damen, 12 George Toomey, 13 Matt Nean, 14 James Vidler, 15 Sam Kerry, 16 Jaiden Reginato, 17 Brandon Whitney, 18 Jayden Lynch, 19 Josh Galbraith, 20 Vaughan Sandral, 21 Connor Storck, 22 Jaiden McDonald, 23 Jarrod Wyllie. Coach: Ern Sandral.

Lennox Head: 1 Matt Liddle, 2 John Young, 3 Curtis Miles, 4 Jono Huddy, 5 Hayden Blair, 6 Jack Tyndall, 7 Luke Mounic, 8 Daniel Alley, 9 Abe Goldsmith, 10 Hugo Marks, 11 Paul Crozier, 12 Zac Beecher, 13 Brad Lees (c), 14 Martin McNamara, 15 Sam Fitzgerald. Coach: Jason McCombie.

Referee: Graham Cook.

Assistant referees: Peter Campbell, James McElligott.

RESERVE GRADE (at 1.50pm)

Lennox Head: 1 Jacob Creagh, 2 Brad McGoulrick, 3 Connor Blair, 4 Keith Pickett (c), 5 Mick Muir, 6 Mackenzie Winchester, 7 Matthew Vievers, 8 Hayden Farrell, 9 James Barnes, 10 Adam Gordon, 11 Caleb Kirchen, 12 Bart Whiteley, 13 Scott Stapleton, 14 Caleb Kirchen, 15 Billy Goldsmith, 16 Angus Langfield, 17 John Clark, 18 Nick Bordin, 19 Jake Buckley, 20 Luke Smith, 21 Toby Creagh, 22 Jeffrey Carr, 22 Jye Watkins. Coach: James Pearson.

Ballina: 1 Callam Turner, 2 Luke Sipple, 3 Nathan Groves, 4, Josh Pauling, 5 Jakob O'Connor, 6 Jack Reynolds, 7 Luke Kliese, 8 Beau Milner (c), 9 Josh Wrigley, 10 Jamie Coote, 11 Leigh Foster, 12 Matt Lloyd, 13 Seamus Reen, 14 Cody Campbell, 15 Joe Jansson, 16 Joel McMahon, 17 Syd Malietoa, 18 Brad Grono, 19 Isaijha Donovan, 20 Aniri Whewell, 21 Brett McLennan, 22 Harry Price, 23 Daniel Cotes. Coach: Paul Davies.

Referee: Matthew Clayton.

Assistant referees: Peter Brown, Darrin Faulkner.

PRESIDENT'S CUP (at 12 noon)

Yamba: 1 Jordan Walker, 2 Thomas Mather, 3 Bleddyn Gant, 4 Rob Hill, 5 Ewen McQueen, 6 Tom Durrington, 7 Ryan Green, 8 Joe Walker, 9 Sam Zuill, 10 Jason James (c), 11 Callan Obst, 12 Luke Roberts, 13 Andrew Kapeen, 14 Adrian Miller, 15 Kris Thomsen, 16 Stephen Hind, 17 Mitch McLennan, 18 Rob Tierney, 19 Scott Boothby, 20 Michael McCarthy, 21 Sam Bloomer, 22 Troy Harding, 23 Pat Hughes. Coach: Scott Moore.

Evans River: 1 Les Moreman, 2 Derrick Duignan, 3 Chris Barnard, 4 Brody Scheerhorn, 5 Max Pye, 6 Scott Willis, 7 James Quinn, 8 Mark Harring- ton, 9 Luke Cleaver (c), 10 Dale Layland, 11 Harry Daley, 12 Jarrad Cameron, 13 Alister DeBritt, 14 Adam Armistead, 15 Michael Miskle, 16 Connor Thornley, 17 Paul Hope, 18 David Mason, 19 Desmond Long, 20 Payden Samuelsson, 21 Marc Schneider, 23 Grant Cleaver, 25 Asofitu Foster. Coach: Jarrad Cameron.

Referee: Dylan Harris.

Assistant referees: Guy Latham, Brady Fuhrmann.



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