Top four set but games go on

THE top four is all but decided in Far North Coast Rugby Union – now all sides can do is jostle for position.

Barring a rugby miracle Southern Cross University, Casino and Grafton will be the teams watching from the sidelines in August.

Wollongbar-Alstonville, Lennox Head, Lismore and Ballina will be playing for the title.

What happens between now and then makes for interesting viewing tactics-wise: will one of the top sides be keen to stamp their authority with a thrashing? Or will teams be keeping a few tricks up their sleeve for the finals?

In round 11 action today, Lismore and Ballina face-off in a likely semi-final rehearsal; Lennox travel south where they can deal with Grafton in private; Southern Cross and Casino play for pride; and minor premiership front-runners Wollongbar-Alstonville have the weekend off to plan ahead for their round 12 clash with Lismore.

The Greens, who will parade in yellow this weekend to raise awareness of men’s cancer, face the toughest run home with matches against the top three sides.

Coach Richard Hughes says it will be no-holds-barred at Rugby Park today with his side unable to afford to lose any momentum.

“We have had a couple of lukewarm games so there is no holding back from us,” he said.

“We will be sending out our best side and throwing everything we have at them.”

The Greens’ welcome centre Greg Hughes back to the fold and also add Craig Bryant to their monster forward pack that will be praying for a dry track.

“Our pack has an advantage in size, but if we don’t get firm going under feet we lose that advantage,” Hughes said.

Hughes predicted that Mick McGregor would send his Seahorses out with all guns blazing and made the point that Ballina were finalist specialist who would find their best in the semis regardless of form in the lead-up.

Lennox Head captain Jeff Wilson leads his team into battle with Grafton’s Redmen.

The Trojans are focused on small goals, such as winning all their home games, but the bigger picture has them hoping to win all their remaining games handsomely to steal the minor premiership from Wollongbar-Alstonville.

Country representative, Wilson, said there was no point in saving any tricks for the finals – in fact the Trojans don’t even have any.

“All the other teams know how we play,” he said.

“We haven’t been working on anything new; we are just trying to get the little things right which will open up our attack.”

Southern Cross Uni gets a chance to move into fifth spot if they can beat Casino convincingly on their home ground.

August is out of reach for the Gold Rats but coach John Jenkins said that his men are going as hard as ever.

“We won’t be a walkover for any side,” he said.

“Our boys are all still turning up to play and regardless of where we sit on the ladder they just want to win games.”

“There is absolutely no problem with motivation and that is a credit to them the way they have stuck on.”

All matches from 3:15pm.

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