Southern Cross University hooker Kirk Taylor-Brown scored a hat-trick against Casino in FNC rugby union at the weekend.
Southern Cross University hooker Kirk Taylor-Brown scored a hat-trick against Casino in FNC rugby union at the weekend. Libby Lawson

Rats on the rise in rugby

A REJUVENATED Southern Cross University will aim for back-to-back wins when they take on competition heavyweights Byron Bay in Far North Coast Rugby Union tomorrow night.

The Gold Rats are coming off their first win of the season and will play the catch-up game from the third round washout at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore.

SCU have been big improvers this season led by the likes of hooker Kirk Taylor Brown, flanker Shannon Love, five-eighth Latrell Hampton and halfback Zach Hyatt.

Taylor-Brown has been one of the Rats' best for the past few seasons and scored a second half hat-trick in a hard-fought 31-25 win over the Casino Bulls at the weekend.

"He has been very strong and he's one of the guys we look for to lead from the front,” SCU coach Josh Condon said.

"You know what to expect when he is on the field and to get three tries is a good reward for how he plays.”

SCU have played well at the back end of both games this season and led defending premiers 14-12 in the first hit-out of the season earlier this month before going down 26-14.

They had to come from behind to beat Casino on Saturday after trailing 15-14 at halftime.

"It makes a big difference once you get that first win and the boys should take plenty of self belief out of that,” Condon said.

"Byron are a tough team but I'm confident that we have the fire-power to match them. We have a pretty strong backline and guys with the ability to turn a game around.

"But we have to come out switched on or we could be down by 20 points before we know it.

"We've come together as a close-knit team and I think that helps, too.”

Kick-off is scheduled for 6pm.

There will be no games this weekend with a competition bye for the NSW Country Championships played at Port Macquarie.

Far North Coast will compete in the second tier where they can win the Richardson Shield for the first time since 2010.

They will take on Central Coast in the first game on Saturday at 9am.



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