Cudgen Hornets 'young guns' Jess Shaw, Jason Tutt and Colin Higginbottom will miss the opening match of the Northern Rivers rugby league competition after earning representative honours.
Cudgen Hornets 'young guns' Jess Shaw, Jason Tutt and Colin Higginbottom will miss the opening match of the Northern Rivers rugby league competition after earning representative honours. Tweed Daily News/Craig Sadler

Hornets wary of the Ghosts

THE Cudgen Hornets will be hoping it is a “good Friday” for them when they open their Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League season against the Grafton Ghosts tomorrow night at Ned Byrne Field.

In a disjointed opening round of the competition, the Cudgen-Grafton clash will be the only game in town, and Hornets coach Con Theodossiou expects it to be a torrid encounter.

“Grafton went within a whisker of taking the premiership last year and they will be out to go one better this season,” Theodossiou said. “They won't be coming up here for a holiday and will be out to put plenty of pressure on us.

“As it is with the first games of any season, we need to concentrate on defence, and if we can absorb their pressure we will be in the match with a good showing.”

After looking to build depth in the club during the off-season, Cudgen is eager to climb the ladder and take the mantle of the Tweed's best side in the NRRRL.

“We have had a disrupted preparation due to the rain but were able to train on the field this week,” Theodossiou said.

“Considering the traffic it has had on it (three Queensland Cup games last Sunday), the field is in top condition, and that should make for a good match.”

With both sides having “very handy forward packs”, it could rely on game breaks for either side to turn the match.

While Cudgen has the mercurial talents of fullback Shannon Murphy, the Ghosts have five Northern Region reps in their side, a fact not lost on the Hornets' mentor.

“We need to keep things under control and just build pressure on them,” he said. “We can't afford cheap turnovers, because Grafton will make us pay.”

With Cudgen boasting a strong reserve grade, Theodossiou said there was pressure on the A grade side to perform to their best.

“It's a good situation to be in, with guys pushing to the top spots; it keeps the players on their toes,” he said.

There will be three grades in action tomorrow at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff, with the under-18s kicking off at 2.30pm, followed by the reserve grade at 3.45pm and the A grade around 5.15pm.

While the junior canteen won't be open, there will be catering on ground, serving up traditional Easter fare.

Because the game is being played on Good Friday, alcohol sales of cans and stubbies will not be available, but the Cudgen Leagues Club will be open.

Cudgen football manager Graeme Lawrence said spectators were welcome to avail themselves of the league club's function room to watch the match, and admission to that upstairs area of the club was the same as entry to the ground - $6 per adult and children under 16 free.

Gates open to the ground at 1pm.

CUDGEN HORNETS: 1. Shannon Murphy, 2. Adam Evan, 3. Dan Forder, 4. Joe Prichard, 5. Jackson Hardy, 6. Tayne Mulheron, 7. Dan Woods, 8. Sean Pinder, 9. Ben Matthews, 10. Steve Kirkham (c), 11. Dan Chaumont, 12. Cody Burns, 13. Aaron Aitken, 14. Steve Roberts.

GRAFTON GHOSTS: 1.Khan Williams, 2. Carson Galloway, 3.Ben McLennan, 4. Aaron Taylor, 5. Marty Haynes, 6. Daniel Roberts, 7. Ryan Farrell , 8. Nat Sewell, 9. Rhys Walters, 10. Mitchell Wicks, 11. Shaun Davison, 12. Dan Shipman, 13. Adam Elliott, 14. Liam Bland.



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