From the rucks

THIS Far North Coast Rugby Competition is the closest I can remember, with potentially some quite bizarre twists in the final two competition rounds.

Just seven points, or a win and a half, separates first placed Casino from fourth placed Lismore.

Grafton keep winning, but cannot be assured of a finals place because fifth placed University, who appeared right out the running, keep winning also with last week's defeat of defending premiers keeping them right in the hunt despite still being seven points adrift of Lismore.

The scenarios are endless.

Lismore, with a bye in the last round, need to beat Yamba this week to secure a semi-final spot.

A few weeks ago this would have appeared a formality, but the Greens have lost three on the trot and face the Buccaneers who led competition front runners, Casino, to the final 10 minutes last week.

A Lismore loss leaves them very vulnerable to the fast finishing University.

Also vulnerable to the students is Grafton, who travel to Lismore this week to play them in their mini grand final.

A win secures the Redmen a semi berth and puts those pesky students away once and for all, but University are without doubt the hot side in the competition at present.

With Ballina playing Casino this week, a loss for them would leave the amazing possibility that the Grafton-Ballina clash in the final round at Ballina would see the victor going into the major semi and the loser missing out entirely.

That is leaving out the added complication of bonus points, as two losses but two bonus points gained would be enough for the Redmen and Ballina to make them safe from University.

There's plenty more scenarios but my maths isn't that good.

nIN other news, the Redmen Under-10s were gallant in defeat in last week's grand final against Bishop Druitt College at Coffs.

The 40-17 score line didn't reflect their effort against a bigger side and doesn't show that they drew the second stanza.

Grafton's Under-17s play their crucial semi-final on Friday night at Wollongbar at Lennox Head and must be rated a good chance.

The senior's Village Competition reaches it's climax this week at Mallanganee with Kyogle up against the new club, Bangalow.

nMY fearless predictions for this week's penultimate round, require the assistance of a coin to flip because each game is so open ended.

I'd love to tip the Buccaneers and they are a big show, but surely Lismore's pedigree, and the fact that they have so much to lose, will get them home.

Ballina at home are terribly hard to beat and Casino hardly sent shockwaves through the competition with their struggle to beat Yamba.

Despite their inconsistency, Ballina to get home.

Can University's late charge continue?

They are racking up the points in typical student style, but will find the Grafton pack the perfect foil.

Gotta go the Redmen based on their consistency.

First grade table

Casino=57

Grafton=52

Ballina=52

Lismore=50

University=43

Wollongbar=18

Yamba=12



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