Redmen rumble

It's been just about 11 long months since the planning and preparations began and now it is down to a final 80 minutes to decide the Redmen's fate for 2006.

It's been a long haul in this longest of seasons, 21 competition rounds and a month of finals football, and with nothing separating the top five sides in this closest competition in memory, it's been pressure all the way.

In a bizarre twist, this week's grand final protagonists, Grafton and Ballina, were playing for survival only a month ago in the final competition round, the loser at danger of missing out on the semis all together.

Now they face up again in the grand final, and a repeat of that tremendous final competition game, one of the season's best, is on the cards.

Ballina have struck form at the right time and their 26-10 job on a depleted Casino gives them just the tonic to continue their impressive finals' record in the Far North competition.

The Seahorses are no strangers to finals football and they've contested something like a dozen or so deciders since 1990.

Grafton haven't been there for a while, since 1999, and some may think that this will play against them.

However, the Redmen have been playing for survival virtually every game in the past two months, and have been under pressure all year after it took them a while to get started with a new look side and a new coach.

I think that their semi-final showed that they are ready and more than up to the pressure of the day, their ability to stay focussed and stick to their game plan in those final frenetic minutes evidence enough.

There'll be no big secrets in the game plans.

Ballina will need to compete with the big Grafton pack if they are to have any chance.

Grafton, on the other hand, will have to con- tain the dangerous Ballina backs.

nIT will be much of the same in the seconds with Ballina shaping up as well after overcoming Lismore late.

Grafton's track record in seconds is an enviable one, but they will face tough questions from minor premiers Ballina as they seek to defend their title, won against the same side at Yamba last year.

nSUPPORT will be critical, especially in the wide open, atmosphere lacking spaces of Oakes Oval and Redmen officials are confident that the Grafton supporters, widely renown as the best travellers in the Zone, will be there in force to provide that extra lift.

Buses leave the Jacaranda Hotel at 11:30 am sharp, the cost for the trip including entry and refreshments, a bargain at $30.

Red and white apparel is compulsory and for those without one, Club shirts will be available on the bus.

Supporters are asked to contact either myself on 0408296365 or Gary Powell on 0417197532 to book your seat.

In the lower grades Wollongbar should be too strong for Casino in Under-19s, while Byron Bay look to be the bet of the day in thirds against Lismore.

nTHE presentation night to celebrate a couple of victories will be on the following Friday, September 30 at the golf club, tickets costing $24 a head.

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