KEY POSITION: Centre Jon Chevalley has a big afternoon in front of him at Lismore.
KEY POSITION: Centre Jon Chevalley has a big afternoon in front of him at Lismore.

Redmen hit tough patch

By DAVE MORRISON

The Grafton Redmen

THE season doesn't get any easier for the Mighty River Redmen as they seek to retain their lead of the Coopers Far North Coast Rugby Competition at Lismore today.

Following last week's tough slog in the mud against premiers Ballina, they face up to an equally in-form Lismore City side that, after a poor start to the season, is unbeaten in its past four outings and has lost just once in its last seven games.

Like last year, the competition is getting extraordinarily close with all games having a big impact on sides' chances at the end of the year.

A win for the Redmen will maintain their lead of the competition, but a loss could, depending on other results, drop them to third.

While Lismore, currently fourth, could move up to third or slip back to sixth.

With so much riding on the result, the match will inevitably be tight and willing, with form suggesting that there will be little in the final result.

Grafton started the season in great style, but are going through those difficult patches that all sides face at some stage of a season.

Their effort last week against a very much in form Ballina was sound enough, but just off the pace in a couple of crucial areas that eventually told on the scoreboard.

There was certainly nothing to suggest alarm bells or a revamp in the way they have been going about things.

Lismore as usual will be tough up front, but it has been their backs of late that have been asking questions of opponents, with prolific try scoring centre Stephen Hughes the linchpin of their attack.

The defence of Grafton centres Jon Chevalley and Shane Denshire will need to be up to its bruising and offensive best to nullify Lismore scoring potential.

With key backs Tom Gerrard, Dylan Lewis and Aaron Taylor all injured, coach Gary Powell has been forced to move flanker Paul Cameron to fullback, a position that his versatility and naturally good kicking game should suit well.

Powerful lock Mark Robinson comes into the pack for Cameron giving the Redmen a pretty form idable look up front.

The match, to be played at Crozier Oval, is of vital importance to both sides.

A bus leaves the Jacaran- da Hotel at 10am.

Wallabies on guard

MELBOURNE. ? The Wallabies are braced for an English backlash as they aim to usher in a new era of success by inflicting the Old Enemy's worst Test losing streak in 22 years.

Not since one of Australia's most famous rugby union teams ? the 1984 Grand Slam Wallabies ? won 19-3 at Twickenham has England lost five Tests in a row.

It's a measure of how much Andy Robinson's men have fallen since their 2003 World Cup final triumph over Australia that they face the same fate again, after scoring just two tries in four losses.

But the Wallabies suspect England's rearranged and beefed-up forward pack, led by seasoned lock Ben Kay, will respond with fire at Melbourne's Telstra Dome tonight.



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