Magpies head group fightback
By Steve Spinks
There was one word the fledgling Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition was always seeking.
It's finally got it.
Remarkably, the credibility of the combined Group One and Group 18 competition hasn't come from powerful clubs like the Tweed Seagulls, Cudgen, Murwillumbah, Marist Brothers, South Grafton or Ballina.
It came from two unlikely sources ? Casino and Lower Clarence.
Last Sunday, not many people would have given the Cougars much chance against the third placed Cudgen Hornets.
Similarly, Lower Clarence were thought to have little hope against the previously undefeated Murwillumbah.
But in the two biggest upsets of the season, both prevailed.
Casino dominated the Hornets 38-24, while the Magpies had a last gasp 22-20 victory over the Mustangs.
In doing so, both showed that with a bit of commitment and a bit of luck, the smaller clubs could compete in the enlarged 13-team competition.
NRRRL president Robin Harley was one man who couldn't keep the smile off his face.
"I think the competition was always going to be a success, there's no risk about that," he said.
"It just shows on any given day any club can go down.
"But what those wins show (Casino and Lower) is that if clubs apply themselves a little more there is a victory in sight for them.
"It's certainly great for the competition."
Casino's victory was especially sweet, considering the tough couple of seasons the Cougars have experienced.
"It's a fantastic result for Casino," Harley said.
"I'm sure Cavill and his core band of players will get a lot of heart for next year from that win.
"If they get off on the right foot, they could have a big year in front of them."
Harley always believed the early dominance of the Group 18 clubs was expected.
"I always felt that the Group One clubs would battle initially against the Group 18 clubs," Harley said.
"Being up there on the edge of the Queensland Cup competition they have players around with a different attitude towards fitness and the intensity of play.
"It's something our clubs (Group One) are starting to come to terms with."
nTO cap off a bad weekend for the Northern teams the South Grafton Rebels also posted a big win over South Tweed.
The Rebels had gone close to beating Cudgen at home the week before, and the win on the weekend was so much sweeter because it took place on South Tweed's home patch.