Buccaneers have a point to prove against ?big brother

By DAVE MORRISON

Rugby union writer

THE clash of the Clarence rugby sides is on again today with the Yamba Buccaneers hosting the Grafton Redmen at Yamba Oval.

With two closely contested local derbies under their belt already this season, this one again looms as an enthralling contest; the Redmen seeking to keep their perfect record against their near neighbours in tact, while the Buccaneers will be after their first win over their big brother, a win that would also help them get off the foot of the competition table.

Grafton have won both previous clashes, and despite the tight scorelines in each, Grafton came out as the dominant side.

The Redmen have it all to play for today with the prospect of a semi-final place well within their reach but not yet secured.

They will need to win a minimum of two, possibly three of their last four games to ensure a playoff berth, so today's game against the deceptively competitive cellar dwellers at Yamba is an ideal opportunity to take a big step forward in that direction.

Once more, it will be the power of the big Grafton pack that is likely to be decisive.

Their set pieces, and lineout in particular, have been their prime asset all season and they have been able to wear good sides down through weight of possession.

A well-controlled rolling maul has been a destructive force as well and has been responsible for many tries throughout the season.

For the Buccaneers, promoted to first grade this year, today's game represents a mini-grand final for them and is one that they would have targeted at season's start.

Their loss to Wollongbar last week has probably secured them the wooden spoon, but this is a deceptive title, as they would be one of the best wooden spooners in recent memory.

They have shown time and time again that the Buccaneers can match it with any side in the competition and if not for a bit of finish, probably brought about by their lack of top grade experience, could have won half a dozen more games and also be knocking on the door of the semi finals.

The Yamba pack is willing and will go all day, and whilst being small, have a quality number-eight in Sydney first grader Mitch McLennan.

It is in the backs where Yamba pose a threat, their young and inventive backline is very dangerous particularly on counter attack.

Passions will run high in what should be a fast and furious game.

Grafton should win but will need to be on their game, as a Yamba side at home and primed for a big result to cap their season, will be right in it to the end.

Grafton's seconds and thirds travel to Mullumbimby.

Boks on menu

CAPE TOWN. ? While the Lions' rugby series cakewalk appears more irrelevant to the All Blacks by the day, old enemies the Springboks are being eagerly eyed up as New Zealand plot their path to the 2007 World Cup crown.



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