It’s the Battle of Byron Shire in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League this weekend, with competition leaders Byron Bay Red Devils taking on the Retravision Northern League premiers, Mullumbimby Giants, at Mullumbimby on Saturday.

Clashes between the two teams are always special, but Saturday’s game will be even more so.

Firstly, Byron Bay are looking like real premiership favourites.

Secondly, Mullumbimby need to get the defence of their premiership back on track.

The Red Devils’ 66-4 shellacking of Ballina Seagulls at Ballina last Sunday was a mighty impressive performance.

Byron have a really solid forward pack, and their backs are lightning-fast.

And they have scored a major pick-up, with hooker Andrew Battese (ex Ballina last year, contracted to the Gold Coast Titans Youth team this year) likely to be a Red Devil for the rest of the season.

Battese is a class player and a very good goalkicker.

Byron halfback Jared De Thierry has been consistent with his kicking this year, and having Battese as a back-up is another plus for the Red Devils.

Meanwhile, the Giants will face a tough month ahead and have to bounce back from last weekend’s 48-14 loss to Kyogle.

Their opponents over the next five weeks are Byron, Lismore Marist Brothers at Lismore, Casino RSM at Mullum, Grafton Rhinos at Grafton and Lower Clarence away.

The Giants share fifth spot with Kyogle and Lower Clarence.

Lower Clarence Magpies take on Grafton Rhinos at Yamba on Sunday, and that match should be a good one.

Another crucial match will be at New Park, Kyogle, where the home side will face fourth-placed Tweed Coast.

Kyogle blew Mullumbimby off the park with a dominating first-half performance, and a similar effort will be needed against the pacey Tweed Coast Raiders.

Points: 20 Byron Bay; 18 Marist Brothers, Grafton Ghosts; 16 Tweed Coast; 14 Kyogle, Mullumbimby, Lower Clarence; 10 Grafton Rhinos; 7 Cudgen; 6 Casino RSM, Ballina; 5 South Tweed; 4 Murwillumbah.

PICTURE: Action from last Sunday’s Byron Bay-Ballina match.

This weekend’s games:

SATURDAY 5 JULY

  • Grafton Ghosts v Evans Head (Reserve Grade Only), Frank McGuren Park, Grafton, kick-off 1.30.
  • Cudgen v Marist Brothers, 3 Grades, 3pm start, Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff, First Grade kick-off 5.45pm.
  • Mullumbimby v Byron Bay, 3 Grades, 3pm start, Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby, First Grade kick-off 5.45pm.

SUNDAY 6 JULY

  • Ballina v South Tweed, 2 Grades, 1pm start, Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina. First Grade kick-off 2.30pm.
  • Murwillumbah v Casino RSM, 3 Grades, Noon start, Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah. First Grade kick-off 2.45pm.
  • Kyogle v Tweed Coast, 3 Grades, Noon start, New Park, Kyogle. First Grade kick-off 2.45pm.
  • Lower Clarence v Grafton Rhinos, 3 Grades, 11.30am start. Yamba Sports Complex, Yamba. First Grade kick-off 2.15pm.