From the rucks
IT looks like you can throw the form guide out the window for the final couple of months or so of the Coopers Far North Coast Rugby Competition.
A fortnight back, Ballina slogged out a tough win over competition leaders Grafton and Lismore flogged Yamba.
Last week, Grafton had a close win over Lismore and Casino beat Yamba easily.
Grafton then beat Casino so what chance Yamba over Ballina at Ballina? Virtually nil?
Alas, after three losses on the trot, Yamba knocked off a Ballina side who'd won five in a row.
It is more proof that form means little once the whistle starts the game in this tight competition. Mental toughness as much as anything else will play a big part in how this season pans out.
I think that the mighty River Redmen have it in spades after their last two gritty efforts to hold off Lismore and the Bulls.
Not overly pretty, but with a frugal defensive commitment, there's a sense of what it takes to win the big games.
nIT'S funny where old rugby players end up once their rugby-playing days are no more.
It's not always a case of the craggy old stalwart on the hill, or perhaps a referee or coaching career.
For Yamba's Graham Mackie, known to many Far North Coast players from the 70s and 80s, it's an artistic career, launching another exhibition of his works, 'From the beach to the bush and back again' at Coldstream Street's arthouse Australia this week.
It goes on for a month and is well worth the look.
nTHE Junior Redmen tour to New Zealand in October gathers momentum with booking and arrangements made for the three-team trip.
Fundraising continues with the raffle of a signed Brumbies jersey, tickets available at all home games until drawn on August 18.
nMORE crucial games are on offer on the Far North Coast this weekend.
The match of the day features two fancied teams under some pressure, fourth-placed Lismore hosting fifth-placed defending premiers Ballina.
It's anyone's guess, but I lean towards Ballina.
The loser will be under some pressure as Casino will surely leapfrog at least one side with a win over Lennox Head.
Yamba can move into second spot with a win at home over University as Wollongbar have the bye.
The Redmen travel to Mullumbimby for a tricky assignment against Tweed but will be focussed on a bonus point win to continue their charge for the minor premiership.
There's no let up for them however with both Wollongbar and Yamba snapping at their heels.It was great to see a greatly improved effort from the Redmen seconds last week, a real good win against a good side and they should now have the confidence to start stringing some results togther.
After Round 12
Grafton 10 42
Wollongbar 11 37 Yamba 11 35
Lismore 11 31
Ballina 11 30
Casino 11 29
University 10 19
Tweed 10 9
Lennox Head 10 5