Ready for rugby league's Battle of the River
THE air in the Valley is electric with anticipation for the biggest rugby league showdown of the year as cross-river rivals Grafton Ghosts and South Grafton Rebels do battle on Frank McGuren field.
The annual match, which is played for the Viv Hodge Memorial Trophy, has been dominated in recent years by strong Ghosts outfits, but an undefeated Rebels side is ready to bring that dynasty to a crushing end.
Rebels coach Dallas Waters is adamant his team is ready to show up for a gruelling encounter.
"The boys will need no motivation to turn up against Ghosts," he said. "It's going to be a physical, tough encounter. That flashy footy we play will have to be rolled away for a period of time because it's a going to be an arm wrestle.
"Once we get some ball then we'll ask questions of their defence and put on some skilful attacking
plays. But until that point it will come down to composure and patience."
The Rebels side is cruising into the local derby on the back of a 30-point drubbing of the Nambucca Heads Roosters, including a dominant 40-point display in the second half.
Ghosts' captain-coach Ben McLennan said his side will need to look out for the Rebels runaway backline but that is not the only worry they have.
"This is the biggest game of the year and if we don't turn up here there is no point in turning up at all," he said.
"We just need to make sure we are completing our sets and we will be sweet. They have got a very handy team all the way across the park, and so do we, we just haven't been putting it together in the last couple of weeks.
"But if we can complete on the weekend and play footy like I know we can then I don't see any reason why we can't beat these blokes."
For McLennan, Sunday marks the first time he will be leading his side out of the sheds into a local derby match-up.
"I have played in a lot of them, but this is a different feeling. I want to make sure the boys are prepared to the best we possibly can be," he said.
"It is an honour really."