More than bragging rights
By DAVE MORRISON
LOCAL derbies are always big and full of passion, and today should be no different at Rugby Park South Grafton when the Grafton Jacaranda Hotel Redmen host the new boys of the Far North Coast First Grade Rugby Competition, the Yamba Buccaneers.
Without doubt, the newly promoted Buccaneers would have pencilled in a victory at South Grafton as one of their season's goals, and after a promising start, they cannot be discounted from achieving it at this early stage of the season.
It is only early days, with another four months of competition rounds to go, but with both sides being winless so far, there is far more than mere Valley bragging rights on the line in an almost must-win game.
Both sides have very similar seasons to date, three losses in games which for large parts, they were right in the mix with an even chance of winning.
That crucial, undefined factor that turns close games to victories in the final twenty minutes has probably been instrumental in each game, and is where both coaches will be looking for that vital improvement to get their side over the line.
Little seems to separate the sides.
Grafton, as a more seasoned first grade outfit and with an imposing forward pack would be favoured by most to get away with the result.
Their pack has more than matched what has been put up to them by last year's top three sides in consecutive games, but they have been unable to finish sides off when apparently on top.
Many thought that the Buccaneers would struggle up front this season, but their willing pack has surprised pundits with some wholehearted performances.
With a youthful and enterprising back line, Yamba will rightly rate their chances as pretty good to snare their first win in the top grade.
Given enough possession, scoring points shouldn't be a problem for them.
And that is where Grafton will obviously try to control the game, particularly through the set pieces.
A bumper crowd is expected for a big day out, all four grades in action starting from 11.20am with the Third Grade game against Mul- lumbimby.