Cellar dwellers into battle
LAST time the Lower Clarence Magpies and South Grafton Rebels were scheduled to meet, the round was called off because of heavy rain and ground closures.
Their highly anticipated meeting at McKittrick Park was postponed until the end of the season, leaving tomorrow's Maclean Showground match as their first encounter of the year.
Even though both teams sit on the bottom of the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League ladder, it is shaping up to be a ripper of a game.
The Magpies sit one rung above the Rebels, thanks to a shock win over Evans Head in round three, but that is no comfort to coach Ricky Binge.
"South Grafton have a pretty good team on the paddock this week," Binge said.
"Just looking over their line-up and you can see their strength is definitely in the centres."
Aaron Martin has stood out for the Rebels while he has been on the field, regardless of whether he played in the centres or halves.
The other centre, Dwayne Duke, has been one of the biggest metre-eaters for the club, using his size and strength to chew up extra yardage with every carry.
It is a size advantage the Rebels would be crazy to ignore, but Binge is certain Andrew Kapeen and DJ Eamons will be able to step up.
"The backs have been the best players in our team so it will be an interesting battle," Binge said.
"I believe DJ and Andrew have pretty strong defence and should contain them. It will be an interesting battle between them."
The biggest issue both teams have had this year is their defence.
While both teams have spent time trying to plug the gaps, it has not stopped the teams from conceding a combined 550 points.
"We've done a lot of work in recent weeks and we had a pretty big improvement last week," Binge said.
"The threat of 100 burpees for conceding a soft try worked a treat, even though they probably forget later in the game.
"All the work on defence and our discipline is beginning to show."
South Grafton have named one of their strongest line-ups of the year, and should be tough to beat.
Winger Nic McGrady comes into the side to cover Luke Worthing, who is unavailable to due to family commitments.
How they line up
Under-18s: 12pm Reserve grade: 1.30pm First grade: 3pm
Lower Clarence MagpiesSouth Grafton Rebels
1 Ben McDonaldCain Freeburn
2 Dan GallowayAllistar Flanders
3 Andrew KapeenDwayne Duke
4 DJ EamonsAaron Martin
5 Damien RandallNic McGrady
6 Louis AppoRon Gordon
7 Jason JamesAndy Bell
8 Ryan BingeKurtis Laurie
9 Theo WoodsRhys Walters
10 Jordan WalkerJarrod Stephenson
11 Joe WoodsMick Watkins
12 Alex RobisonJosh Harris
13 Rhys AppoBen Woods
14 Steve AustineChris Hardy
15 Brenton BlanchMatt McLennan