Long week ahead for clubs
THE Far North Coast rugby union finals don't start until this weekend but already two clubs are in deep trouble.
Lennox Head and Lismore City are sweating on key players who were sent to the judiciary this week.
The Trojans could be without its captain and key play-maker Harry Witt and NSW Country winger Matt Aherne after the pair were sent off in Saturday's fiery encounter against Lismore at Rugby Park.
Witt (trampling) and Aherne (striking) will be joined by Lismore's Craig Jones (striking) at the judiciary. It should also be noted that Lennox Head's Adam Gordon, Matt Liddle and Corey Windle all received yellow cards in the match.
Despite the disruptions, and playing three men down during the first half, the Trojans miraculously managed to win the game 14-6.
Trojans coach Paul Jeffery said his team had shown tremendous 'heart' to fight back and win the game against the run of play.
“It takes a strong team to come back from that many players down and go forward and be successful,” he said.
“We showed signs of fractioning, and falling by the wayside, and it takes a strong unit to come through what we did.
“I've been involved in rugby union since I was 14 years of age and the heart they showed ... I'll never forget.”
The win means Lennox Head finished the season in third place on the ladder and will now meet the Wollongbar-Alstonville Pioneers in a cut-throat minor semi-final in Casino on Saturday.
But at what cost?
“This week going forward is going to be disruptive at best,” Jeffery said.
“What we do know is that we will have a strong presence from Lennox (at the judiciary) and we have got a case to put forward.”
Greens coach Ron Cox was careful in his description of the fiery match, not wanting to inflame the situation any further.
“It was a bit of a shame, because potentially it could have been a really good game. But the refs had to lay down the law and it was always going to be pretty tough,” Cox said.
“The refs did say at the start of the game how important discipline was and I think we were a bit more disciplined than them (Lennox Head).
“But what goes on the field, stays on the field. We are not playing netball.”
Meanwhile, Wollongbar-Alstonville have snared fourth spot on the ladder and a place in the finals after beating minor premiers Ballina 33-18.
“We've been up some weeks and down some weeks, but on the weekend we did the business. They really signed on and did their job,” Pioneers coach Barry Carpenter said.
“They can take a bit of confidence after that win against Ballina.”
Elsewhere, Casino did everything right by beating Coolangatta-Tweed 68-5 only to learn that other results hadn't fallen their way and they hadn't made the top four.
In a farcical match, in which the Barbarians only sent 20 players to play across two grades, the match was called off early with the consent of both coaches.
Bulls coach Mick Russell later heard the news that the Pioneers had beaten Ballina, ending all hopes of his team sneaking into the top four.
“It's our own fault,” he said.
“We had a one-point loss to Grafton and a two-point loss to Ballina and if either of them had gone our way it would be in our own hands.
“We were not devastated, but we were not far off it.”