There’s another great round looming in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League, with three local derbies being the highlights as the race for the NRRRL semi-finals hots up.

Three rounds remain before the finals, and after last weekend’s round of upsets, it will take a bold punter to predict any of the outcomes this weekend.

Heading the list of local derbies is another Battle of Byron Shire, and what should be another epic Clarence River local derby.

Defending premiers Byron Bay, who were shock losers to Murwillumbah last weekend, host Mullumbimby.

These Byron Shire local derbies always produce hard-fought clashes, but this one takes on special significance, with Byron in fourth spot with a host of semi-final aspirants breathing down their necks.

Mullum also cannot afford a loss. They are in third spot, only two behind Lower Clarence and Northern United, and with relatively easy matches against Marist Brothers, Ballina and Cudgen remaining after this weekend, the Giants can still stake a claim for the minor premiership.

On the Clarence, Lower Clarence take on Grafton Ghosts at Grafton less than a month after their clash in Yamba, which Lower won 22-20.

Ghosts are fifth on 16 points and a loss could see them slip out of the top five.

Lower share the lead with Northern United on 24 points and will be keen to stay on top.

It all adds up to another great match.

On the Tweed, Cudgen and Tweed Coast clash at Kingscliff on Saturday. Cudgen share fifth spot with Ghosts, while Tweed Coast, no doubt on a high after last week’s win over Northern United, are two points behind and need to win to stay in the semi-final race.

Northern United also face a tough road trip to Grafton on Saturday to take on Grafton Rhinos, who beat Grafton Ghosts last weekend.

Coach Chris Binge no doubt has hammered home the word ‘complacency’ to Northern United at training this week, so Rhinos are in for a tough one.

In other games:

  • Casino RSM and Evans Head clash at Evans on Saturday in what could become a new local derby.
  • Marist Brothers and Kyogle play on Friday night at Lismore.
  • Ballina are at home to Murwillumbah on Sunday.

It will be a big day at Ballina, with the club holding three reunions: the 20-year reunion of the premiership-winning 1989 first grade team, the 30-year reunion of the successful 1979 reserve grade team and the 15-year reunion of the one and only second division team.

Points: Northern United 24, Lower Clarence 24, Mullumbimby 22, Byron Bay 18, Grafton Ghosts 16*, Cudgen 16, Grafton Rhinos 14*, Tweed Coast 14, Ballina 12, Murwillumbah 10, Kyogle 7*, Marist Brothers 5*, Evans Head 5, Casino RSM 5.
* Deferred match; results to be advised.

Reserve grade: Mullumbimby 28, Ballina 24, Lower Clarence 19, Evans Head 18, Byron Bay 16, Cudgen 16, Tweed Coast 16, Grafton Ghosts 12, Northern United 10, Murwillumbah 10, Marist Brothers 9, Grafton Rhinos 8, Kyogle 4, Casino RSM 2.

Under-18s: Ballina 22, Lower Clarence 22, Kyogle 20, Northern United 20, Evans Head 19, Tweed Coast 16, Grafton Ghosts 15, Murwillumbah 14, Marist Brothers 13, Mullumbimby 11, Cudgen 10, Grafton Rhinos 8, Casino RSM 2, Byron Bay 0.

NORTHERN RIVERS RUGBY LEAGUE COMPETITION ROUND 15

FRIDAY NIGHT

MARIST BROTHERS v KYOGLE FRIDAY 31/07/09 START 6PM
OAKES OVAL LISMORE 1ST GRADE KICK OFF 8.45PM

SATURDAY

EVANS HEAD V CASINO RSM SATURDAY 01/08/09 12 NOON
STAN PAYNE OVAL EVANS HEAD 1ST GRADE KICK OFF 2.45PM

GRAFTON RHINOS V NORTHERN UNITED SATURDAY 1PM 01/08/09
MCKITTRICK PK SOUTH GRAFTON 1ST GRADE KICK OFF 3.45PM
                              
CUDGEN V TWEED COAST SATURDAY 2.30PM 01/08/09
NED BYRNE FIELD KINGSCLIFF 1ST GRADE KICK OFF 5.15PM

SUNDAY
ALL U/18 MATCHES KICK OFF AT 12 N00N

BYRON BAY V MULLUMBIMBY SUNDAY 02/08/09
BYRON BAY R.L. GROUND 1ST GRADE KICK OFF 2.45PM

BALLINA V MURWILLUMBAH SUNDAY 02/08/09
KINGSFORD SMITH PARK BALLINA 1ST GRADE KICK OFF 2.45PM

GRAFTON GHOSTS V LOWER CLARENCE SUNDAY 02/08/09
MCGUREN PARK GRAFTON 1ST GRADE KICK OFF 2.45PM