By DAVE MORRISON
THE trip to Ballina for a game of rugby has so often been a long and fruitless one for the Grafton Redmen.
For some reason, Grafton seem to leave their best rugby somewhere else when they tackle the Seahorses on their home turf, however, today they will have to buck that trend if they are to threaten the in-form Ballina.
Ballina have started the season well, with two wins from two, although they have been made to work harder than expected to get over the top of the relatively unfancied Wollongbar and Yamba.
Their dangerous backline has kept the points coming and has been the key factor in their efforts to date.
Grafton's short season has been the opposite, taking two highly fancied opponents, last year's grand finalists Lismore and Casino, to the wire, but coming up short in the end.
Form to date suggests that this will be another tight affair.
The Jacaranda Hotel Redmen will field a slightly reshuffled line up, with a depleted backrow forcing five-eighth Jon Chevalley to move to the side of the pack with the experienced Jason Landrigan filling in at Chevalley's pivot role.
Grafton won't suffer too much, if at all, from the reshuffle, with Chevalley likely to be given a free hand to provide a link between the pack and the backs, and dis- rupt Ballina's momentum at the tackle situation.
Despite his youth, the versatile Landrigan has plenty of first grade experience at five-eighth and half, and will slot in to the team's patterns with ease.
Ballina pose it's biggest danger out wide, their three quarter line backed by former Country fullback, Kane Scott at the rear, very dangerous in open field situations.
As ever with Ballina, the key will be to limit their broken play opportunities and especially restrict their counterattacking options.
Fundamental to this is the kicking game, which must be spot on as any aimless kicking will be punished.
The Redmen also take Ballina on in seconds and thirds, the Seconds looking to improve on their better effort last week against a Ballina side probably still smarting from last year's grand final loss to Grafton.
Grafton's Bloomer Transport Thirds will be confident of a win, being bolstered by a number of Under-19s not required to play to- day.
nWELLINGTON. ? Carlos Spencer's rugby fortunes have nosedived further with the former All Blacks five-eighth fracturing a cheekbone at training.
He is expected to be out of Super 12 action for three weeks, a Blues spokesman said today.
The Blues five-eighth suffered the injury on Wednesday.