From the Rucks

FOOT LOOSE: A Casino forward leaves the ruck too early and provides the Buccaneers ball carrier with an opening. Photo: DEBRAH
FOOT LOOSE: A Casino forward leaves the ruck too early and provides the Buccaneers ball carrier with an opening. Photo: DEBRAH

THE Waratahs continue to prove their knockers wrong, but that still won't get the critics off their back.

Early in the year they were scoring plenty of tries and winning by big margins, but it was all a bit flashy against the weaker half of the competition.

Surely they'd fall when the real pressure came on against the tougher teams in May, especially against the Kiwi sides.

One round to go, still on top after gritty wins over their Australian rivals and a huge effort at the House of Pain ? it's all a bit boring, no flair or running rugby.

Surely they've gone off the boil and aren't playing well enough to win.

They've got a home semi, a shot at a home final, and I suspect that even winning the title won't be enough to please many.

It's tough at the top.

nTHE Far North Coast Rugby Competition is shaping as the most even I can ever remember.

This week sees the end of the first round, and for memory, there's hardly been a game in which the margin has been more than about 12-15 points.

Grafton's 36-10 win on the weekend would have been the biggest score and winning margin to date.

We have no undefeated sides, and while winless at the bottom of the table, Yamba have given every side a scare and haven't been beaten by more than about 10 yet.

As I mentioned earlier in the season, the ability to get over the line when you've not necessarily been the better side has been crucial.

There has not been many upsets to date but I think that there a quite a few just round the cor- ner.

nSOME junior action at the Rugby fields tomorrow with the North Coast Catholic Schools trial from 11am.

Junior action continues Friday night with Grafton at home in the 17s and 13s to Ballina.

nSATURDAY sees the Redmen on the road again after a couple of successful home games, facing University in firsts, seconds and Under-19s.

Grafton's home form in recent seasons has been very good, their away form ordinary to say the least.

They must start winning on the road, especially against fellow mid-table sides like the Gold Rats, if they are to hold any serious thoughts of success this season.

It would be wise not to underestimate this Uni side, particularly their under rated pack that more than matched Lismore last week.

nIN other games, Casino and Ballina is the match of the day and really is a toss of the coin, Casino's consistency and Grafton against the more dangerous, but unpredictable Ballina.

Ballina to win.

nYAMBA hold hopes of their first win, hosting Lismore.

They are certainly not without a chance, if they can continue to adjust to the more unforgiving nature of first grade and cut down their mistake rate under pressure.

Lismore after a struggle.

ON a final note, the thoughts of all local rugby followers go out to Renae and Simon Green.