Local derby in rugby shield competition

GRAFTON and South Grafton high schools play in an all too rare rugby union encounter at Rugby Park South Grafton today.

The match puts the schools into contention for three different school rugby competitions: the Robson, Waratah and Yates shields.

South High coach Gervase Bertus said it is the first time time the schools have played in rugby for two seasons.

He said it was the first game of the season for both teams, but both had gone through the first round of the Robson/Waratah shield competition after winning on forfeits.

Bertus played down the cross-town rivalry between the schools.

"It's there, you'd have to say, but nowhere near the levels of past years," he said.

"From what I can tell both teams are pretty similar in ability, with some players with rugby experience in Under-17s and Redmen Under-19s."

"Our strongest players are five-eighth Mark Maguire, who's played North Coast CHS and fullback Stuart Jonkers, who is a good attacking player."

The Grafton High squad has some injury worries, with coach Mick Hillery forced to reshuffle his forward pack.

"We had a light training run today and the main worry was getting a front row together," he said.

"We're basically a prop down, so I've had to move a guy who normally plays hooker into play prop.

They're all experienced players, so I don't see that there'll be any problems there."

Today's game counts in both the Robson/Waratah Shield and Yates Shield competitions.

The Robson and Waratah shields are state-wide competitions for public and private schools and the Yates Shield is for country-based schools.

The game kicks off today at Rugby Park, South Graf- ton at 11am.

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