Wollongbar-Alstonville flanker Nick Pennisi has returned for the Pioneers in FNC rugby.
Wollongbar-Alstonville flanker Nick Pennisi has returned for the Pioneers in FNC rugby. Vicki Kerry

Flankers back on deck for Pioneers

FLANKERS Hamish Mould and Nick Pennisi return to the Wollongbar-Alstonville starting side today after missing most of the Far North Coast rugby union season with injuries.

Pennisi was the best forward in the comp last year but has been hampered by an ankle injury this season.

It will be his first time back in the starting side since June while Mould has been named at No8 for the Pioneers' clash with Casuarina at Lyle Park, Wollongbar, today.

"Both of them have missed more than half the season and they'll get a good run this weekend,” Wollongbar-Alstonville coach Paul Jeffery said.

"They played some minutes off the bench last week and I'm going to rest second-rower Matt Scott for this one.

"Austin Markwort comes into the second row and he always does the job, it doesn't matter where I put him.

"He probably doesn't get the recognition but he is one of the hardest working players in the competition.

"What we put on the field this weekend won't be anywhere near our best 15 but we're lucky to have enough depth to get through.

"We set a goal at the start of the season to reach the major semi-final in both grades and we're close to doing that if reserve grade win.”

Casuarina also look light on numbers and have not named five-eighth Vitori Buatava or No8 Mitch Planten.

The Barbarians gave the undefeated Pioneers a scare earlier this season and have gone closest to beating them in a 26-22 effort in May.

However, they would need Buatava and Planten to challenge them again.

"Casuarina are that sort of side where they can flick the switch and put 30-40 points on you,” Jeffery said.

"Vitori has one of the best kicking games in the competition, he can pin a side down in their own end and that makes them a very dangerous team.”

Kick-off is 3.15pm.

In other games:

Ballina can seal second spot on the ladder when they take on Byron Bay at Quays Reserve, Ballina.

SCU will play Grafton at Maurie Ryan Oval, East Lismore.

Lennox Head tackles Lismore City at Lismore Rugby Park.

Bangalow will host Casino at Schultz Oval.

Wollongbar-Alstonville: 1 Matt Wright, 2 Bill Johnston, 3 Benji Tiatia, 4 Austin Markwort, 5 Josh Galbraith, 6 Nick Pennisi, 7 Justyn Keir, 8 Hamish Mould, 9 Louis Hollman, 10 Ben Damen (c), 11 Ryan Graham, 12 Daniel Damen, 13 Franklin Calugay, 14 James Vidler, 15 Sam Kerry. Coach: Paul Jeffery.

Casuarina Beach: 1 Robert Beacroft, 2 Daniel Heritage, 3 Bruce Somerville, 4 Chris Dowling, 5 Elisio Tagidrau, 6 Henry Bradford, 7 Ross Colvin, 8 Adam Leach, 9 Webb Lillis, 10 Casey Calder, 11 Josh Harman, 12 Rian Olivier, 13 Hiroshi Takeyama, 14 Graham Dodge, 15 Richard White. Coach: Mick Hall.

Referee: Matt Clayton.

Ballina: 1 Isaac Pratten, 2 Hayden Warneke, 3 Callum Turner, 4 Jakob O'Connor, 5 Kye Cribb, 6 Brad Brown (c), 7 Luke Kliese, 8 Stan Lolohea, 9 Nick Watson, 10 Beau Clarke, 11 Leigh Foster, 12 Siosuia Koloto, 13 Tupou Lolohea, 14 Luke Simpson, 15 Tom Watson. Coach: Chris Hickey.

Byron Bay: 1 Jordan Elliott, 2 Duane Pakai, 3 Brad Hill, 4 Ed Randall, 5 Will Aisake, 6 James Atkins, 7 Cooper Lau, 8 Courtney Raymond, 9 Tom Brooks, 10 Peter Gillespie, 11 Blake Whittakar, 12 Owain Roberts, 13 Jascha Saeck (c), 14 Mark Howard, 15 Campbell Harvey. Coach: Jeff Watt.

Referee: Kevin Twomey.

Southern Cross University: 1 Mitch Bird, 2 Isaac Penfold, 3 Pat Kelly, 4 Steve Spinks, 5 Eli Cook, 6 Lachlan Hills, 7 Kirk Taylor-Brown, 8 Matt Murray, 9 Matt Anderson (c), 10 Will Hawkins, 11 Rhys Harrison, 12 Trevor Bolt, 13 Matt McMullen, 14 Roy Gordon, 15 Michael McMullen. Coach: Harry Witt.

Grafton: 1 Jack Anderson, 2 Zac Mason-Gale, 3 Dan Blackman (vc), 4 Rhys Nelson, 5 Declan Collie, 6 Keaton Ingram, 7 Tom Tanner, 8 Ed McGrath, 9 Dom Bullock, 10 Kyle Hancock (c), 11 Jayden Reti, 12 Luke Worthing, 13 Dwayne Duke, 14 James Fairweather, 15 Adam Smidt. Coach: Craig Howe.

Referee: James McElligott.

Lismore City: 1 Greg Martin, 2 Cameron Bryant, 3 Ben Carroll, 4 Gavin Tulk, 5 Dylan Tulk, 6 Tyler Coveney, 7 tba, 8 Angus MacDougall, 9 Jack Everingham, 10 William Fairweather, 11 Sam Nilon, 12 James Grubb, 13 Jake Lennon, 14, Perry Daly, 15 Andrew Sky. Coach: Ray Taylor.

Lennox Head: 1 Angus Langfield, 2 Brad McGoulrick, 3 Jacob Carter, 4 Harry Bungate, 5 Callum Jones, 6 John Young, 7 Sean Watkins, 8 Mackenzie Winchester, 9 Rhys Tatum, 10 Matt Birmingham, 11 Martin McNamara, 12 Billy Goldsmith, 13 Callum S Jones, 14 Jack Norman, 15 Sam Fitzgerald. Coach: Rob Fish.

Referee: Dylan Harris.

Bangalow: 1 Aniri Whewell, 2 Nick Jones(c), 3 Neil Moran, 4 Rob Wrightman, 5 Jock Craigie, 6 Jack Bensley, 7 John Turagabeci, 8 David Johnson, 9 Rowan Ozols, 10 Ben Farrow, 11 Sam Campbell, 12 Daniel Hill, 13 Kye Spence, 14 Benson Lockyer, 15 Jed Erickson. Coach: Tim Cohen.

Casino: 1 Craig Connelly, 2 Ben Collison, 3 Scott Kenny, 4 Callum McLennan, 5 Marcus Cusack, 6 Elliott Birmingham, 7 Carl Tahatu, 8 Ratu Vio Batibasaga, 9 Stephen Murchie (c), 10 Nick Armstrong, 11 Jacob Dunn, 12 Josef Lalabalavu , 13 Harrison Cusack, 14 Nick Benn, 15 Wilson Lovokuro. Coach: Doug Murray.

Referee: Graham Cook.