FLYING HIGH: Yamba Buccaneers Jai O’Neill wins a line-out against the Iluka Cossacks in the opening round of the Far North Coast Rugby Union's Presidents Cup.
FLYING HIGH: Yamba Buccaneers Jai O’Neill wins a line-out against the Iluka Cossacks in the opening round of the Far North Coast Rugby Union's Presidents Cup. Graham Mackie

Cossacks sound warning call to FNC Rugby: We’re back!

RUGBY UNION: Iluka Cossacks have broken a drought which has plagued them for at least the past 15 years.

>> PREVIEW: Clash of the Clarence Heads at Yamba Oval

They finally beat cross-river rivals Yamba Buccaneers in what was a Clash of the Heads.

"It was good to get the monkey off of the back," Cossacks captain Kris Thomsen said.

"In my playing days the club has never had a win against Yamba so it has been a pretty long wait for some Iluka supporters and players.

"There was some pretty good patches of rugby played out there. There was a lot of passion in the play and a lot of physicality."

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Neither side was willing to give an edge to the opposition in the opening half with crunching defence and strong ruck work a priority for each side.

At the end of the opening stanza it was all locked up at a try a-piece but the shackles would soon be broken with seven tries between the sides coming in the second half.

Buccaneers captain Lee Everett said it was a physical contest and that there would be a few sore bodies around the Lower Clarence.

"The match was good, it was really hard-hitting - it was pretty physical," he said. "I reckon everyone will be pretty sore today.

"There were a few little niggles here and there but that is what you expect in the local derby. It was really played in the right spirit by both sides."

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Everett admitted a lack of trial matches and game time may have led to both sides loosening their defence in the second half.

"It was really tight in the first half and no one was really giving an inch," he said.

"In the second half the game opened up a lot more as the forwards started to tire.

"Our intensity was there for the whole game, a bit of ill-discipline probably cost us a bit in the second half but everyone had a good game.

"I have been excited for this game for about three weeks, so I am glad we have finished it and now I can focus on the rest of the season."

The Cossacks will now make the road trip next week to face Kyogle while the Buccaneers will travel to Murwillumbah for their clash in round two.



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