Redmen facing a Lismore acid test
By DAVE MORRISON
IT'S a real acid test for the Grafton Jacaranda Hotel Redmen today, taking on defending premiers and competition leaders, Lismore City at Lismore.
Grafton are looking for their fourth win on the trot in this year's Far North Coast Rugby Competition, looking to extend what has become their best winning run for a few seasons.
To do so however, they must not only prove that they are up to the task of handling the premiership favourites, but also that they can reproduce their form shown at home on the road.
No one can deny their credentials based on the form of the past few weeks.
However the Redmen challenge will be to prove that they can reproduce it away from home, something that they cannot say has been done all that often of late.
They must also face up to the reality that ? impressive that their recent victories have been ? they have all come against sides ranked lower on the ladder.
Grafton have yet to beat a side placed above them and really need to do so to cement a place amongst the top sides.
Their cause will be helped by being able to name essentially the same side for the third successive week.
However, prop David Hales, who is starting to run into top form, is under an injury cloud and may be a late withdrawal.
Crucial to the result will be the battle in the backlines.
Both forward packs have plenty to like about them, but may generally cancel each other out.
Lismore, with the likes of Nigel Marshall, Damien O'Brien and John Lea in their side present all sorts of dilemmas for the defence, especially in broken play.
Capitalising on quick turnovers in possession are their forte, being masters at getting the ball to where the defence is light on.
The Redmen backline is developing nicely, their defensive patterns and scrambling looking sounder with each outing.
The mid-field trio of John Chevalley, Paul Allen and Matt Coombs are starting to work well together, their defence punishing at times.
It is here that the game will probably be decided.
Both Seconds and Thirds hit the road to Lismore as well, and will find the perennial depth of the Lismore club a real challenge.
Grafton's seconds are a new look bunch this year, but showed last week that they are starting to hit their straps and are a real show of taking out this competition.