X-FACTOR: South Grafton back-rower Ben Liyou will be out to give Maclean High School's defence headaches in the DEX Shield Opens final.
X-FACTOR: South Grafton back-rower Ben Liyou will be out to give Maclean High School's defence headaches in the DEX Shield Opens final. Adam Hourigan

Stage set for an epic DEX Shield

OPENS: Maclean and South Grafton have had to wait for weeks for their Max Godbee Memorial Daily Examiner Shield finals clash after rain delayed their match, but the rivalry will continue tonight when the two teams take to the field at McKittrick Park tonight.

The delay may work in South Grafton High's favour as they are bolstered by the return of back rower Ben Liyou.

Liyou was ruled out with concussion for the game last month when he suffered a head knock playing in the centre for the Grafton Ghosts first grade team.

However since the June 27 game was washed out, and the match rescheduled to tonight, Liyou is set to take his place in the starting 13 for South Grafton.

This final will be the last chance Liyou will get to lead his team to DEX Shield glory.

"I won the DEX Shield in Year 6 and in the Under-14s, that was a good game,” he said.

"It'd be great to get an Opens win too. This is my final chance at taking out the Opens, it's my last year at South High and that's another thing (coach Mathew) McKee has been saying, we need to dig deep and do our best to win.”

While South Grafton rolled through McAuley in the round game, Liyou said South Grafton would need to be at their best if they were to beat Maclean.

"It's going to be a completely different battle against Maclean,” he said.

"We're going to have to lift for this game no matter what. Something that McKee has been saying is we need to stick to our structure and hold onto the ball and we'll get over them in the end. If you hold onto the ball they'll get tired, so possession is crucial.”

For Maclean High School, the memory of their heartbreaking last-minute loss in last year's Open final won't be far from their mind as they look to stake their claim for the DEX Shield.

Rugby league coordinator Donna Watts said the school break did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm for the clash.

Yesterday was the school's first day back, and Watts said the boys were ready to go.

"I had kids yelling out to me from across the playground, running up to me with their permission notes, so they're definitely keen,” Watts said.

"We may have picked up a couple of injuries over the holidays, but hopefully that won't have an impact.

"I'm confident the boys have got what it takes to win.”



4pm Under-14s: McAuley Catholic College v Grafton High School

4.50pm League Tag: South Grafton High v Grafton High

5.35pm Opens: Woopi v McAuley Catholic College


6.30pm Under-14s: South Grafton High v Maclean High

7.25pm League Tag: Maclean High v McAuley Catholic College

8.20pm Opens: South Grafton High v Maclean High School