Injuries threaten Cudgen?s dreams
By ADAM WRATTEN
INJURIES threaten to derail Cudgen's premiership hopes in this year's inaugural Northern Rivers rugby league competition.
Hornets coach Jamie Mathiou will leave naming his side to the last minute today ahead of the club's do-or-die clash with Ballina at Ned Byrne Field from 2.35pm.
Several key players are scheduled to have fitness tests at midday, including fullback Andrew King (twisted knee), props Dan Donovan (knee) and Travis Falls (ankle), lock Corey Williams (thigh), halfback/hooker Troy Dickinovski (eye) and centre Tayne Mulherin (hamstring).
Mathiou is refusing to dwell on the injury problems.
"We are not going to use that as an excuse," Mathiou said.
"We believe whatever team we send out will be competitive."
The Hornets were disappointing in last week's loss to Murwillumbah, despite a second-half fightback.
That was their first game in almost three weeks, and Mathiou has told his players they need to lift against Ballina.
"Ballina are a tough team, who play tough footy, especially around the ruck," Mathiou said.
"They have got good players, such as Shaun Lawrie, but we have to focus on what we can do.
"Last week we were too worried about what Murwillumbah could do."
The winner of today's knockout clash will advance to play the winner of tomorrow's game between Lismore's Marist Brothers, who finished third on the competition ladder, and last year's Group 1 premiers Mullumbimby.
Minor premiers Seagulls and Murwillumbah, who finished second, play each other next week at Piggabeen Sports Complex, with the winner advancing with the right to host the grand final.
CUDGEN: (from) Joe Prichard, Jackson Hardy, Beau Buckley, Brian McCarthy, Tayne Mulherin, Craig Thurston, Steve O'Keefe, Travis Falls, Troy Dickinovski, Dan Donovan, Damien Bryant, Andrew Hamilton, Corey Williams, Andrew King, Dan Cheaumont, Chris Sheahan, Strath Johnson, Brady Upton, Heath Wilson.
BALLINA: Matt Thompson, Damien Buckley, Trent Gasnier, Ashley Moran, Shaun Laurie, Justin Bolt, Troy Johnstone, Tyler Iverson, Corey Windle, Matt Temby, Matt Slattery, Mitch Aubusson, Paul King. Interchange: James Rix, Ben Crawford, Ed Killingbeck.