Buccaneers? title defence

By Tony White

The Yamba Buccaneers are steeled and focused on pirating more premiership booty.

Today the swashbuckling rugby union third grade side take on Lismore in the final at Lismore Rugby Ground for a chance to defend the premiership they won so gallantly last season.

Lismore, despite losing to Byron Bay in the major semi-final, will undoubtedly be a large hurdle to climb -they've beaten the Buccaneers in each of their three meetings this season, albeit narrowly each time.

But the Buccaneers are bursting with confidence gleaned after their gutsy 7-5 win over Ballina in the preliminary semi-final in Grafton two weeks back.

"While we're not getting too far ahead of ourselves, we're strongly committed and focused at defending our premiership," club spokesman Daryl Rock said. "And that means winning on Saturday to keep the dream alive."

Injured captain-coach Paul Rheinberger's presence at training this week has bolstered the team.

Rheinberger suffered a double break in his leg against Ballina leaving his playing future in doubt.

"Paul has been at training both nights this week which the guys have really appreciated," Rock said.

"While he'll be sorely missed on the paddock, we've definitely got a solid replacement in Pat Day.

"Pat will take over captaincy of the side and play at breakaway instead of hooker.

"Paul Cassidy moves from prop to hooker and in-form Paul Lardner will start the game at prop.

"We're expecting a very tough game which will be predominantly played in the forwards.

"We are confident of our forwards doing the job and we've got the backline to score the points."

The Buccaneers forwards were one of the driving forces behind the defeat of Ballina.

Good rolling mauls and controlling the ball in tight will be paramount to the result.

Given space and good ball, the Buccaneers backs are capable of running in trys.

For Lismore back-rower Dave Cannon, today's match will be of special significance.

Last year the Lismore-based doctor played in the Buccaneers premiership winning team.

This time around Cannon is in the enemy den.

"From Dave's personal perspective he'll be trying to further his chances of a premiership trophy and so will our club," Rock said. "He's a very good all round player and one of the danger men for Lismore.

"Their centre pairing, the Durheim brothers, are also big dangers."



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