Local sides could both host final

THE PRE-SEASON Ballina RSL Club Charity Shield is hotting up with two local sides still in contention.

The Ghosts and the Grafton Rhinos were both round one winners and are still in with a chance of hosting the final. The club with the highest aggregate score after two rounds of the competition will have the luxury of hosting the final. The competition is split into a Northern and Southern Division with Kyogle, the Rhinos and the Ghosts picking up wins in round one. The Rhinos defeated Lower Clarence 34-20 with the Ghosts disposing of Evans Head 24-16. Last year’s grand finalists Northern United with 36 points lead the charge in the Northern Division ahead of Ballina (32), Murwillumbah (26) and Cudgen (22). Kyogle Turkeys who defeated Casino 36-26 top the table in the Southern Zone with 42 points ahead of the Rhinos (40) and Grafton Ghosts (30). In round two the Ghosts play Kyogle at home and the Rhinos are away to Casino.

The Turkey’s new captain and last season’s Lower Clarence Magpie forward Don Walker scored a try on debut and is a player the Ghosts will need to nullify in round two this weekend. Tipped to be the side to beat in this season’s Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL) competition the Ghosts should be too strong for a new-look Kyogle side. Casino is widely tipped to take out the wooden spoon this season and on paper will struggle against the Rhinos who showed early season form against Lower last week. Rhinos captain Xavier Sullivan admitted his side needs fine-tuning but is confident the Rhinos can cement a place in the final.

“After hearing Casino lost to Kyogle I see no reason why we can’t defeat them this weekend,” Sullivan said.

“We not only need to win but also need to rack up a big score to have a chance of making the final. I’ve made a few minor changes to the side that defeated Lower. I’m thinking of rotating the halves during the game and work on a few different combinations in the backs.

“From all reports Casino have bought a few junior players but lost several core players from last year.”

Sullivan said hosting the final would be a major coup and could entice more juniors back to the club.

The NRRRL competition gets into full swing on May 2 with the Ghosts hosting Evans Head, the Rhinos away to Tweed Coast and the Lower Clarence Magpies at home to Mullumbimby.

All eyes will be on round three when the Grafton Ghosts host the Rhinos in what promises to be a blockbuster.

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