MNC Rugby release draw, Snappers ready to rip in
RUGBY UNION: The season may be more than two months away but rugby clubs around the region are champing at the bit to be back on the field.
Mid North Coast Rugby has released the 2019 draw, with plenty of great clashes to look forward to throughout the season.
The opening round, which will be held on Saturday, April 6, is headlined by a grand final rematch between premiers, the Coffs Harbour Snappers, and the Hastings Valley Vikings.
The Port Macquarie Pirates host the Southern Cross University Marlins in the other round one fixture, while the Kempsey Cannonballs have the bye in the new five-team draw.
Round four features the first local derby of the season, with the Snappers scheduled to host the Marlins.
The 15-week regular season means first grade clubs will play each other three times and have three byes.
New Snappers coach Joe de Dassel is looking forward to reigniting the rivalry with the Vikings.
"It's a big game to start off the year, they'll be baying for our blood after last year's grand final,” he said.
"But we won't read too much into that result, it's a long season this year.”
The coach said his side had been focussing on fitness during pre-season and was taking the opportunity to blow out the cobwebs.
"We've got sevens tournaments and trial games to look forward to leading into the season,” de Dassel said.
"With a smaller competition every game is really important, anyone could beat anyone this year.
"Our goal is to win the competition, but as a club we're focusing more on performance, and not just in first grade.
"We want our reserves, women's and juniors to all be on top. If you're not aiming high you're doing something wrong.”
The grand final will be played on August 17.