ULTIMATE RIVALRY: Magpies out for redemption over Ghosts
AFTER one of the most challenging Group 1 junior rugby league seasons ever played, four Clarence Valley sides will be gunning for glory at Saturday‘s huge grand final day in Kyogle.
The goliath Grafton Ghosts and Colossal Clarence Coast Magpies will watch on as their under-13 and under-16 sides face Ballina Seagulls across two games.
But the ultimate rivalry continues with an under-14 derby decider as the two teams square off for a second grand final in a row.
Getting in the way of a Clarence Coast junior dynasty, Grafton brought the Magpies magical run to a halt with a win in last year’s big dance.
With premierships in the under-11s and under-12s, this Clarence Coast crop is special but Ghosts under-14s coach Paul Donovan has transformed his group.
“We’ve got a good bunch of kids and there’s a bright future for quite a few of them,” Donovan said.
After breaking the Magpies dominance last year, Donovan expected them to make the finals again.
“It was no surprise that they’d be here again this time of year. We knew it was going to happen and we focused on them as our potential opponents,” he said.
Speaking to The Daily Examiner during a round against South Grafton Rebels at McKittrick Park earlier in the season, Magpies coach Anthony Hickling expected is side to challenge again in 2020.
“For the last few years we’ve always had a strong group of players from the Lower Clarence. The kids are always walking around with a footy in their hand,” Hickling said.
“They’ve always been strong down there and I can see big things for the seniors in the future.”
The Clarence Coast under-16 side will also face a grand final rematch from 2019, when they beat the Balling Seagulls with a resounding performance.
While the Rebels will miss out on a chance at any of the 2020 Group 1 junior premierships, club president Erin Gallagher saw growth at the club this year and expects strength in the years to come.
Clarence clubs at the 2020 Group 1 junior rugby league grand finals in Kyogle
Under-13: Grafton Ghosts vs Ballina Seagulls, 11.30am
Under-14: Grafton Ghosts vs Clarence Coast Magpies, 12.35pm
Under-16: Ballina Seagulls vs Clarence Coast Magpies, 3.50pm