Redmen's must-win test as finals hopes fade
RUGBY UNION: The cards have not fallen well for McKimms Grafton Redmen in recent weeks. Injuries to key players see the Redmen under mounting pressure to save their season.
Early optimism has been replaced by increasing concerns that they are now on track to miss out on the semi-finals with only five rounds remaining.
Star linchpin and captain Kyle Hancock still remains sidelined with a hamstring injury and there are also concerns fullback Keaton Ingram could also be in doubt for their match against Bangalow Rebels tomorrow with a shoulder concern.
But in some good news for Grafton, they welcome back scrum-half Dom Bullock, five-eighth Adam Smidt along with forwards Ed McGrath, Dan Blackman and Declan Collie.
Speaking ahead of their round 14 clash against the Rebels, first grade coach Craig Howe was under no illusions his side have their backs against the wall for a play-off spot.
"Last week's loss has made it more difficult to make the semi finals,” Howe admitted.
"But as Jack Anderson said after last week's loss, you never say never. There is a lot more to playing rugby then making the top four. Mateship, playing for your Club and enjoying the game are also important.”
If Grafton is to resurrect their season they will need to regroup after their disappointing loss to Lismore City last week.
All signs point to a Redmen victory but the big question is, has Grafton still got the passion and resolve to overcome a Bangalow side with a "nothing to loose” mentality?
"There is still plenty of motivation amongst the playing group and a high level of commitment still there in difficult circumstances,” Howe said.
"Losing Kyle leaves a big hole but with the other guys coming back into the team I'm expecting a much better performance this week.”
Grafton will have the added advantage of playing at in front of their home crowd in first and second grades while the President's Cup and women go to Yamba.
FIRST GRADE SQUAD
1. Jack Anderson
2. Zac Mason-Gale
3. Dan Blackman (c)
4. Nick Collie
5. Declain Collie
6. Billy Whalan
7. Tom Tanner
8. Ed McGrath
9. Dom Bullock
10. Adam Smidt
11. Ryan Spies
12. Luke Worthing
13. Dwayne Duke
15. Keaton Ingram