By DAVE MORRISON
IT'S round two of the local Rugby derby at South Grafton today when the Grafton Redmen host the Yamba Buccaneers in a first grade clash of the Far North Coast Rugby competition.
Their previous encounter saw the Redmen run out 16-6 winners after trailing at halftime in a bruising and willing encounter before a big crowd. More of the same can be expected today.
The competition's newest top grade side, Yamba, face up against one of the competition's foundation clubs, with both sides running into form as good as any other in the competition.
Both had slow starts to the season but are now flexing their muscles in a very open competition.
Grafton, having lost their opening four games, have won four of their last five to leave them on the cusp of a semi-final place.
The pressure for them is to keep winning.
Yamba found the promotion to the top grade difficult initially, being very competitive but unable to find a way to win in the opening two months.
But what a difference a fortnight can make, first with a draw against Ballina and backed up last week with a convincing win at home against Wollongbar.
The scene is set for a tremendous local derby.
Grafton's forward power against Yamba's pace and back line inventiveness makes for a classic confrontation of sides with very different strengths.
However, both sides would argue that their recent successes could not have been achieved, in Grafton's case without a more than capable back line, and in Yamba's case, without a very competent forward pack.
The Buccaneer's big challenge will be to win enough possession in order to give their backs enough room to attack, and to find a way to nullify Grafton's destructive rolling maul.
The Redmen challenge will be to deny the Yamba backs attacking opportunities, particularly on counter attack, and hence will need to have their kicking game spot on.
Their kicking game will need to find the touchlines and protect their forward pack from unproductive running.
An intriguing clash awaits, with the added spice and hour at stake in Clarence Valley rivalry ensuring entertainment for the crowd as being the only sure winner.
The Redmen Seconds too will have their hands full against a Mullumbimby side that led Grafton until the final play of their previous encounter.
A new look Grafton side is slowly developing into a strong outfit that will challenge for Second Grade honours but will find the Moonshiners, a former first grade outfit, tough customers.