Derby to be a cracker
By ADAM WRATTEN
YOU know something special is about to happen when coaches start talking up the opposition.
Yesterday, Murwillumbah's Con Theodossiou and Cudgen's Jamie Mathiou were saying nice things about their opponents ahead of tomorrow's crucial derby at Stan Sercombe Oval.
Usually, this is a sign of a coach's confidence in his own side.
Tomorrow is a vital game for both clubs, with more than just local pride on the line.
If Murwillumbah wins, the Mustangs finish in the top two of this year's Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition - something they richly deserve - and get an opportunity to play for direct entry to the grand final.
The Mustangs have not been out of the competition's top two all year. Most of the season they have fought out the minor premiership with Seagulls.
They have been consistent, playing a tough brand of football, often wearing sides down and coming over the top in the second half.
Cudgen's season has been different.
If the Hornets win tomorrow they jump above Murwillumbah and could finish second if Ballina beats third-placed Marist Brothers.
Cudgen only won two of its first five games.
But, since then it has been building. Four rounds ago the Hornets produced one of the most exciting performances of the season to smash Mullumbimby, and on their day they are great to watch. Though they are coming off a loss to Seagulls, they've had time to regroup and are determined to reverse an early season loss to the Mustangs.
Everything points to a cracker of a game and a big crowd is guaranteed (main game kicks off at 2.45pm).
Do yourself a favour and get down to Stan Sercombe. Footy fans are in for a treat.
nMeanwhile, an injury-depleted South Tweed finishes its season tomorrow against minor premiers Seagulls at Piggabeen Sports Complex, in a game that kicks off at the early time of 12.40pm.
South Tweed coach Brock Mathers has lost his second-row from last week, with Michael Kelly (knee), Nathan Borey (shoulder) and Chris Humphries (head knock) all out. Centre Doug Slockee is also suspended after being sent off against the Mustangs last week.
Even so, Mathers is taking a positive attitude into the game.
"I would like to think we can still win," Mathers said.
"We are going to have to be on our game, but I'm sure the guys we send out there will do their best."
Seagulls coach Troy McCarthy will be without standout prop Matthew Briggs, who has been selected in the club's Queensland Cup side. Lee Wallace comes into the line-up.
In other games, Mullum plays Byron, Lower Clarence takes on Casino, Marist Brothers travels to Ballina and Grafton hosts Kyogle.
MURWILLUMBAH: Shannon Murphy, Ricky Lang, Ryan Murphy, Brad Wann, Jason Willis, Matt Harley, Ben White, Steve Kirkham, Lyndon Murphy, Jarrod Brown, Glenn Weaver, Jarrod Flick, Lionel Foster. Interchange: Jason Grippo.
CUDGEN: Andrew King, Jackson Hardy, Joe Prichard, Brian McCarthy, Tane Mulherin, Craig Thurston, Troy Dickinovski, Travis Falls, Nick Mobbs, Dan Donovan, Damian Bryant, Andrew Hamilton, Corey Williams. Interchange: Chris Sheahans.
SEAGULLS: Shane Hollands, Jeremy Walters, Jay McDermott, James Wood, Justin Carter, Paul Rolls, Daniel Evans, Lee Wallace, Andrew Cross, Reece Vincent, Scott Gray, Mykel Hema, Danny Maireroa. Interchange: Curtis Finn.
SOUTH TWEED: Gene Slockee, Thomas Philips, Marcus Corowa, Isaac Jackey, Troy Hilder, Matt Manning, Matt Nuttle, Joe Tuala, Craig Nipperess, Brock Mathers, Ben Mathers, Mark Mulherin, Kane Stannard. Interchange: To be named.