Cossacks continue perfect record against Buccaneers
RUGBY UNION: Tempers flared under a hot Yamba sun as Iluka Cossacks put the exclamation mark on their dominance of cross-river rivals Yamba Buccaneers with a 31-17 victory.
The weekend win was the Cossacks' fifth in the Clash of the Heads local derbies this season in what has been a rebuilding season for the Buccaneers in the Far North Coast Rugby President's Cup competition.
In front of a healthy home crowd the Buccaneers were not willing to die wondering, throwing everything they had at their 'Siberian' rivals in the second half to bring the game back from a 19-3 half time score.
On a day where the Yamba club honoured past players to don the black and gold, the on field action harked back to an older time as players became embroiled in an all-in brawl late in the second half with both sides deservedly losing a player to the sin bin.
Buccaneers captain Kris Thomsen, praised his team's efforts following the match and said they were ready for a major semi-final showdown with Evans River Killer Whales.
"We kind of started pretty well against the boys but sort of dropped off toward the latter stages of the half," Thomsen said. "We spoke about half time trying to come out and play good football, not dropping intensity.
"We found ourselves on the back end of a few penalties, and deep in our own half. Yamba were lucky enough to get a few points and really put it to us. It was a good, tough physical derby game.
"It was real good back and forth rugby to begin with, a bit scrappy on our behalf in comparison to last week, but you have got to take the good with the bad and a win is a win for us."
Thomsen, who was at the centre of the melee and sporting a hefty black eye for his troubles, said it was something that came with the added pressure and passion in a local derby contest.
"It just comes with a derby game," he said. "There is always that added bit of passion involved in everything we do, there is always a little bit of feeling.
"I think it was a bit of tit for tat out there, that is just footy. We leave it out on the field and then shake hands after the game."
The Buccaneers will be able to take a lot from the loss, and will need to regroup ahead of a minor semi-final clash away from home against the Kyogle Cockies next weekend.
The Cossacks now travel away to Red Devil Park to meet the top of the table Killer Whales to book themselves a spot in the grand final.
"We have been using the last couple of weeks to build up to finals time," Thomsen said. "This was the last game before we meet Evans River and hopefully we're going to get a straight ticket into the grand final.
"It is beautiful winning five from five local derbies. It is good particularly coming from Yamba and crossing the river, it is a very sweet feeling. I was happy with one, and then two, three, four but five is just great."