Coaches split on premiership decider

OPINION is evenly divided over the likely outcome of Saturday's Far North Coast rugby union grand final between Lennox Head and Lismore City.

A poll of the six non-participating coaches in Saturday's premiership decider is split right down the middle at 3-3.

Ballina's coach Andrew Grant-Frost, Wollongbar-Alstonville's Barry Carpenter and Southern Cross University's John Jenkins have all nominated Lennox Head as the team to beat.

But Casino's Mick Russell, Coolangatta-Tweed's Mark Ianelli and Grafton's Scott Forwell have tipped Lismore to take out the title.

However, all the coaches agree on one thing: it's going to be tight, with no one predicting a margin beyond 10 points.

“I've thought Lennox Head were going to win it since the second round,” SCU's John Jenkins said.

“They've improved remarkably throughout the competition and I think they have the better balanced side.

“I also think they've got the game to adapt to different circumstances, whether it is wet or dry, they will handle the weather conditions.

“If both teams play to their potential, Lennox might win by 10 points.”

Casino's Mick Russell has a contrary opinion, believing Lismore will sneak home.

“They have just been the best team all year, all around the paddock,” he said.

“Their forwards and backs connect well across the park and they don't have a stand-out spot; they are strong in every position.”

Coolangatta-Tweed's Mark Ianelli was motivated to tip Lismore partly because Lennox Head beat them in last year's grand final.

“The reason Lismore will win is they are not just a one- or two-man team like Lennox,” Ianelli said.

“Knowing Lismore I'd say it is going to be a pretty close game. They don't give up easy and they should be right if they don't let Lennox get a run on.”

Grafton's Scott Forwell believes Lismore will 'muscle up' in the forwards.

“I think Lismore's forward pack is going to dominate possession for their backs,” Forwell said.

Due to a couple of absences this year, Wollongbar-Alstonville's Barry Carpenter hasn't seen too much of Lismore, so he has installed Lennox Head as the favourite.

“It's a toss of the coin, but to tell the truth I think Lennox Head might just have a slight edge,” Carpenter said.

Ballina's Andrew Grant-Frost installed the Trojans as his team to beat after losing to them in last Saturday's preliminary final.

“I have to back Lennox because of the strength they have in their backs and their forwards are well drilled,” he said.



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