From the Rucks



THE good news for Redmen supporters is that Brett 'Barney' Graham is recovering well and has not suffered any permanent damage after injuring his neck in Saturday's game against Ballina.

The bad news is that he has a hairline fracture of his second vertebrae and will be out of action for at least six weeks.

Barney must be one of the toughest players of his size in the Zone.

Over the years various forward packs have tried to get him and he has taken a battering, but has always come back stronger.

He has held down the No.9 jersey with the Redman first grade since 1999 and has represented Mid North Coast, Far North Coast and the combined North Coast side at Country Week.

This year he was appointed vice-captain of the zone team during NPC competition.

We wish him a speedy recov- ery.

'A WIN is a win' they say and it doesn't have to be pretty.

That certainly applies to Saturday night's Waratahs game against the Brumbies.

Sticking rigidly to their coach's instructions the Waratahs kicked and kicked and kicked.

They forced the Brumbies to live in their own half and slowed the game down with set play, particularly lineouts.

The Brumbies live on open play and momentum and the Waratahs starved them of both.

It certainly was effective and the Waratahs have confirmed their place in the semis and still lead the Super 12.

Still it was disappointing to see Tuqiri, Rogers and Turinui kick so often when they have such good running skills.

Let's hope they throw it around more against the Highlanders in a fortnight's time.

The Brumbies should bounce back with the return of Larkham and the less said about the Reds and Wendell Sailor the better.

ON Wednesday, April 27 South High hosts the annual Schoolboys 10-a-side competition at Rugby Park South Grafton.

This will be the first chance our juniors have of using the new clubhouse facilities.

South High, Grafton High, McAuley Catholic College and The Cathedral School have all entered teams and will come up against Dorrigo, Bishop Druitt and John Paul colleges from Coffs Harbour.

If you can get there it will worth your while to see good junior rugby.

Watch out for South High in the 16s and Grafton in the Opens.

Also Grafton junior rugby is about to start and training will be- gin next week.

NOT doing anything next Saturday? Then tune in to ABC's coverage of the Shute Shield and catch former Redmen AJ Whalley playing tighthead prop for Warringah.

AFTER three rounds of the Bangalow Hotel FNC competition Ballina and Casino lead with three wins each from Lismore with two wins and a bye.

Then there's a break to Uni, Grafton, Wollongbar and Yamba.

It is worth noting that Grafton have played the top three sides from last years comp in the order that they finished.

While not recording a win they have stayed between 6 and 10 points of these strong sides.

As it is a three round competition there is plenty of time left for the Redmen to build their charge for the semis.

None of the top three teams have played each other yet so the competition is still to even out.

Grafton has the bye in all grades this week, then take on Yamba at home on April 30.

Yamba also had two close losses to Ballina and Uni and are showing that they will be more than competitive in first grade.

The local derby on April 30 should be a beauty.

NEXT week's tips; Ballina will be too strong for Uni, Lismore will end Casino's run and Yamba to upset Wollongbar.

Gervase Bertus is filling in for Dave Morrison.

PERTH. The Western Force has received mixed reviews from the local community after it was revealed yesterday as the name of the new Western Australian Super 14 rugby team.

A name that supposedly 'best represents a strong, energetic and inclusive rugby team' has polarised the state's rugby fans.



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