Northern United captain Willie Hammond (right) with his Lower Clarence counterpart Anthony Hickling. The teams will face-off in Lismore today in their first meeting since last year’s epic grand final.
Northern United captain Willie Hammond (right) with his Lower Clarence counterpart Anthony Hickling. The teams will face-off in Lismore today in their first meeting since last year’s epic grand final.

Magpies in grand final rematch

WHEN the 2010 Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League draw was released, there would have been plenty of people circling one particular round 11 clash with enthusiasm.

Saturday, July 17: Northern United v Lower Clarence – the grand final rematch at Crozier Field, Lismore.

But since the draw came out the Magpies have been crippled as a club and this match seems to have lost some of its lustre.

Only two Magpies have survived to play in the rematch, while United has five men who were there on grand final day last year, including Grant Brown, who kicked the winning field goal for the premiers before jumping ship.

But while Lower suffers, United seem to be surging into top-from at the right time of the season with three convincing wins on the trot.

And it is no coincidence that those three wins have come since coach Chris Binge shifted Roy Bell to the halves.

“He’s been there three weeks and we’ve got six points ... so yeah, it has worked for us,” Binge said.

“But I can’t say whether he will stay there; week-to-week it’s a different proposition.”

The Magpies have bolstered their side ahead of the big game by withdrawing their reserve grade team from competition.

The club has also reportedly offered cash bonuses to the players if they can manage a win.

Coach Ricky Binge – cousin of counterpart, Chris – was upbeat with the club’s chances yesterday.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to have the same team on the paddock two weeks in a row,” he said.

“We have a team of goers and as long as we keep enthusiastic in defence you never know, we might just give them a scare.”

In top form, it could be Bell, David Briggs and Jamal Roberts who do the scaring, and if Lower doesn’t apply in defence the floodgates could swing wide open for the entertainers.

Kick-off is at 2:45pm.



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