How our region's union stars rated

SUPERB EFFORT: Wollongbar-Alstonville five-eighth Ben Damen
SUPERB EFFORT: Wollongbar-Alstonville five-eighth Ben Damen Vicki Kerry

Northern Star sports editor Mitchell Craig looks back on how the players rated out of 10 in the Far North Coast rugby union grand final between Byron Bay and the Wollongbar-Alstonville Pioneers.

THE Pioneers prevailed 14-8 to claim their third straight premiership against a Byron Bay team which had only lost once during the season.


Matt Wright, 8: Big effort from a front-rower to play a full game in a grand final. The win was also his 351st game at the club.

Bill Johnston, 7.5: Seasoned campaigner who was solid at the set piece and contributed around the field.

Lloyd Morgan/Benji Tiatia, 7.5: Morgan was battling injury and didn't last long while Tiatia was thrust into the game earlier than expected. He did not let anyone down.

Matt Scott, 7: Has played some of his best rugby in recent seasons and was good again here.

Steve Mison, 8: Returned from a hamstring injury in the preliminary final and stepped up in both games.

Jeremy Tozer, 7: Missed the preliminary final with illness and did well to play a full game here.

Tim Ellis, 7.5: Tireless effort at the breakdown and a strong showing considering he was injured and left the field in the opening minutes of preliminary final.

Jerry Faifaise, 8: Needed a big game and he was able to deliver when it counted. Did spend some time off the field when he was yellow-carded for foul play but came back strong.

Jarrod Wyllie, 7: Late inclusion for the injured Louis Hollman and did not look out of place.

Ben Damen, 9: Superb effort in the second half and proved the difference between the two sides.

Vincent Chee/Nathaniel Regueira, 7: Played half a game each and both had limited chances out wide. Regueria had not played in weeks because of a rib injury.

Simon Perkins, 7: Tackled well and brought some toughness to the Pioneers backline that had been missing earlier in the season.

Matt Nean, 7.5: Always a consistent performer and capped his best season in first grade with another good showing.

Luke Baker, 7.5: Back in Pioneers colours after several years out of the game. Has plenty of experience in rugby league and proved a hard man to contain.

Sam Kerry, 8.5: A breakout season for the fullback and he celebrated the win with a try-scoring double in the second half.

TOTAL: 114

Byron Bay

Huw Owen, 7.5: Mobile forward who played the most minutes of the Byron Bay front-rowers.

Josh Smith,7.5: Fierce competitor and never stopped trying all game.

Tim Hartmann/Matt Lund, 7.5: Strong at the scrum and did plenty of work around the field when they were out there.

Luke Philip, 7: Always consistent and another big body that got through plenty of work around the field.

Will Aisake, 7: Not as dominant as he was in the major semi-final and had to leave the field early with a leg injury in the second half.

Evan Mallory, 7: Solid without being brilliant and never shied away from any work.

Craig Wallace, 7.5: Not his best game but can't question his commitment considering he was carrying a knee injury from the major semi-final.

Jack Cooke, 7: Talented forward who was not able to have as big of an impact here as he did in previous games.

Harold Chiffoleau/Vincent Quigley, 7: Both talented in their own right but never quite clicked into gear. Quigley had already come off the bench for Mullumbimby in the reserve grade grand final.

John Laughlin, 7: Byron: Three different players wore the five-eighth jersey this season while Laughlin spent the most time there. Kicked a penalty goal early and played well in the first half.

Jascha Saeck, 7.5: Versatile player who can cover a number of positions in the backline. Tackled well and never stopped trying

Sean Nicholl, 8.5: Great first half with his running game and scored the only try for his side. He needed more ball in the second half.

Darrell Montgomery, 7.5: Runs a great line but was reasonably well contained as the game went on.

James Oakley, 7.5: Blistering speed but did not get too many opportunities in the clear. Also spent time off the field when he was yellow carded.

Owain Roberts, 7: Shifted between five-eighth and fullback this season. Limited chances to inject himself in this game.

TOTAL: 110

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