Cougars cling to semi-final spot
ONLY three teams will be left standing after the minor and major semi-finals in Ladbrokes Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League this weekend.
Casino is under pressure to turn around a 40-6 loss against Murwillumbah when they take on defending premiers Tweed Coast in a must-win at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, on Saturday.
Tweed Coast have hit form at the right time and survived the elimination final from fifth spot with a 20-0 win over Cudgen.
The Cougars will be keen to make amends and should be a lot better at home.
They have a young side that looked to suffer from stage fright with many of them playing in their first semi-final at the weekend.
Casino captain-coach Roy Bell believes they can turn it around after a consistent season which saw them finish equal on competition points with Murwillumbah.
Fullback Noah King and lock Hayden Pratt played well on Sunday but the Cougars will need to lift in the forwards against another big pack.
"We've got a lot of young guys this year and they'll be better for the experience,” Bell said.
"The only player we're missing at the moment is Theo Hippi, so we really need to be better.
"Hayden has been around for a little while now and he's still relatively young, while Noah and a few of the other boys are only around 20 years old.”
Murwillumbah is a big chance against Ballina this weekend with the Seagulls starting front-rowers Andrew Bracek and Nick Ritter under an injury cloud.
The Mustangs forwards will be hard to contain with the likes of Remi Vignau and Jonty Van Der Scheur leading the way with returning hooker Joe Besgrove.
Fullback Toby McIntosh led the way with his kicking and running game on Sunday while wingers Liam Cusack and Jack Bishop scored three tries between them.
Coach Nathan Jordan said his side had practised all week on nullifying Casino's attack which shutdown enigmatic five-eighth Trevor Bolt.
"To get a win like that - and in front of a home crowd - was good,” Jordan said. "Keeping them to one try was good.
"We practised all week on their attacking weapons. I think we have given ourselves a great shot next week to get a win and be able to host a grand final.”