Aiden Daniels.
Aiden Daniels.

Surprise packet v high achiever

ONE team is the defending champion and a perennial high-flyer.

Its opponent, a team made up of leaguees and without a first-grade title to its credit.

Today, Yamba and the Warriors square off to claim rights to be called the best team in the Lower Clarence Cricket Association.

For Yamba, it’s a case of keep on keeping on from past seasons.

For the Warriors, not many would have judged them the team to beat in 2010/11.

Consisting of seven Lower Clarence Magpies rugby league players, the Warriors were the surprise packets early but came to be most pundits’ picks as the team to beat.

It’s quite a coup for a club just nine years old and which clinched a maiden club championship at the completion of the regular-season fixtures.

Warriors skipper Aiden Daniels is one of just four survivors from last year’s team, which struggled to have an impact on the first-grade.

In came Trent Cullen, from Iluka, Josh Gorman and Brett O’Connor returned from forays into the CRCA, Tom Martin and Dan Galloway joined from United and, of course, there was the league connection.

“I think the club has just been building and it’s a lot stronger financially,” Daniels said.

“We have a big connection with the football club, which has helped.”

Cullen, Gorman, O’Connor, Galloway, Ryan Binge, Dave Purcell and Anthony Battin will all line-up for the Magpies in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition this season.

And while they will miss this afternoon’s trial action, it will all be in the cause of gaining the Warriors the first-grade title.

“We are pretty confident,” Daniels said. “We have beaten Yamba twice this year and they beat us a few weeks ago when we were missing a few players.

“If we get the Urquhart brothers early we should be a good chance.”

In contrast, Yamba has maintained the bulk of its title-winning squad. And despite the loss of key batting weapon Connor Young, out with a shoulder injury, Yamba captain Laurie Urquhart is confident his team can end the Warriors’ fairytale run.

“We beat them last time in the semis,” Urquhart said.

“And when they beat us earlier in the season we just didn’t bat well. If we can do that a bit better I’m pretty confident.”

As for nerves on the big day of the season, Urquhart said his troops should hold an edge.

“We have much the same team as last year, which will help because we have that experience to call on,” he said.

The match is at Barry Watts Oval, Maclean, and starts at 1pm.

Bill McCarron and Rob Pye will be the first-grade umpires, with Barry Cason and Ian Dinham in control of the second-grade clash between Wanderers and Harwood and Jim Simmons and John Law taking charge of the third-grade fixture between Brushgrove and Warriors.

TeamsWarriorsBrett O’ConnorRyan BingeTrent CullenMick O’NeillAiden DanielsHector DaleyDave PurcellTom MartinDan GallowayJosh GormanAnthony BattinRyan Wisely (12th)

YambaLaurie UrquhartTroy UrquhartDane MitchellMick BakerRichard AlmondJames Law-O’KeefeEvan RiceJohn HaywoodTim SeiversTom FlowersMatt Headon

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