Underdogs with bite
By TONY WHITE
THE underdog tag sits easily with classy five-eighth Anthony Begg (picture with the ball) and the Pacific Hotel Yamba Buccaneers.
And with it an innate form of psychological security is created ? the 'we've got nothing to lose' syndrome.
Today's summit clash against unbeaten Far North Coast Rugby competition leaders Grafton Redmen is eagerly anticipated and while not lacking confidence in their own ability, the Buccaneers are happy heading into the match as outsiders.
"We're always the underdog and that's good for us," Begg maintained.
"Every week when we win you read Yamba caused an upset beating whoever. We're under no pressure.
"Already this season we've far exceeded our own expectations, from wooden spooners last season to running second on the competition ladder.
"Grafton are the ones under pressure. They're expected to win. They are favourites and favourites to win the competition and they're probably confident of beating us, but a loss would be embarrassing to them.
"There's plenty of hype about this game. It's the biggest of the year so far. It's sure to be a tough, physical game.
"We've got everything to gain and nothing to lose and we won't be changing our game, we'll just do what has been successful for us so far."
Begg said Yamba are approaching the game with a 'one match at a time' philosophy and trying to not get mentally distracted by the mounting hype and anticipation before the two top sides lock horns at Rugby Park, South Grafton.
Yamba's wily coach Andrew Bennett has the job of getting the Buccaneers up and ready coming off a bye last weekend.
"Basically we're approaching this as just another game," he said, playing down the situation.
"Sure it's a local derby with a big impact on the fans but September (grand final) is a long way off. A lot can happen in the intervening period.
"Our intention as always is to win. We've looked at a few things and there are some things we will do a little differently to suit this game.
"When you look at the two sides, I believe our backs will be more than competitive. We'll go into the match mindful of dominating, that's the intention. I believe you attack a rival teams strength (forwards) rather than conceded they have an advantage in certain areas."
Begg, raised in Maclean and a former Lower Clarence Magpie, played for Yamba as a teenager before heading to Bathurst for University.
Several players including Lee Everett, Luke Turner and Mitch McLennan, now in England, were team mates in the junior Yamba teams and now established themselves as top line first graders.
Begg has represented NSW Country at school and under-20s in 2002 and 2003.
He's perfectly aware of the pressure cooker situation of big matches.
"Pressure is only what you put on yourself," he maintained. "If you do that than so be it but the guys all realise we just have to do what we've been doing and do it well.
"Us and the Redmen doing well has been excellent for rugby and that's great. The communities of Grafton and Yamba have got right behind the teams.
"In years gone by Yamba fans would rarely travel up to Grafton, but the talk around is we will have a lot of supporters. Everyone wants to see the match."