Clash of titans as finals loom

Alstonville captain Eamon Banks and Lismore Thistles’ Ben Coulter were two of the best players on field, in a close contest that ended one-all.
Alstonville captain Eamon Banks and Lismore Thistles’ Ben Coulter were two of the best players on field, in a close contest that ended one-all.

Six teams are competing for the five spots in the 2012 finals series.

Alstonville are hovering just outside the top five and host Lennox Head at Crawford Park this Friday night, at 8pm.

Villa have played consistently all season but simply not had enough victories. They meet the Sharks, who have arguably been the surprise packet this year after being promoted from First Division.

A draw with Byron Bay last round would have been a win had the referee blown the whistle thirty seconds earlier, but that is football.

Alstonville are fleet of foot and with experienced defender Richard Russell joining captain Eamon Banks in the backline, it will not be easy for Lennox to penetrate the Villa defence.

On Saturday, Byron Bay meet Casino RSM in a clash that they will expect to win comfortably. The biggest challenge for Rams coach Peter Ware is getting his best eleven on the park.

Recent weeks have seen quality players Tom Ruhl and Jordy Campbell missing and few teams can compensate for the absence of potential match winners like these guys. Sam Robson in defence has been outstanding this season but Byron will be hoping that he has little to do this Saturday.

Lismore Workers and Lismore Thistles will be coming off Tuesday night clashes when they meet at Richards Oval at 3pm, Saturday and the stakes are high for both these traditional clubs.

Workers are nicely poised to claim their first minor premiership since 1997 and Thistles are scrambling for a semi-final place. Workers have a nice blend of youth and experience with young Max Harlen benefiting from the presence of wily Wayne Mortimer.

The Blue's are not looking as sound with an absence of a definite striker and a few shaky moments in defence, causing supporters some concern. The renowned grit of Thistles under pressure will again be tested, but Workers look to have too many guns in this one.

The sole 5pm game is between Ballina and Stars at Saunders Oval. Both teams are fighting to stay away from the relegation zone and each are only three points above Casino.

Stars showed a lot of tenacity last round against Goonellabah while Ballina were in the contest against Workers until half-time. This clash is too close to call and should be an intriguing contest.

One Sunday game will be played - a clash of the titans, with premiers Goonellabah up against arch rivals Rovers from 2.30pm at Weston Park.

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