Fullback stings Ballina
FULLBACK Craig Thurston's 30-point haul ensured Cudgen overcame a gallant Ballina 42-36 in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League at Ned Byrne Field, Cudgen, yesterday.
Thurston and forwards Dan Donovan and Matty Chadburn were the stand-outs for the Hornets in a topsy-turvy match.
While Cudgen always looked the stronger side, they could have lost with defensive lapses proving costly and allowing Ballina to stay in touch for most of the game.
It was only a quick double from Thurston with about 10 minutes remaining ? the first after he regathered his cleverly-crafted kick in behind Ballina's defence and the second a length-of-the-field return after picking up a dangerous grubber kick ? which saw the Hornets home.
Cudgen coach Jamie Mathiou, while impressed with what Ballina offered, was disappointed in his team's defensive concentration.
"To their credit they kept coming at us all day," Mathiou said.
"They will definitely be there at the end of the year for the finals."
He was disappointed his side had not put Ballina away when the opportunities arose.
"We made some silly mistakes in defence," Mathiou said.
"We looked good in attack, but every one of their tries came from our mistakes."
Cudgen opened the scoring in the second minute with a try from the impressive Donovan, who crashed over, taking two defenders with him. Ballina responded quickly through Raan Campbell ,who went in for the first of his two tries.
Matty Chadburn, in a carbon-copy of the first try, then put Cudgen back in the driver's seat before Ballina's Mitch Aubusson, who scored three tries, tied things up again with an explosive 30m run.
Two more tries to Thurston for the Hornets and Joe O'Connor and Damien Buckley for Ballina saw the half-time score level at 20-all.
In the second half Thurston opened the scoring for Cudgen.
But tries to Campbell and Aubusson put Ballina ahead with 20 minutes remaining.
A try to Nick Mobbs and Thurs-ton's impressive double put Cudgen ahead.
Aubusson scored a late consolation try for Ballina with the final play of the game.
CUDGEN 42 (C Thurston 5, D Donovan, M Chadburn, N Mobbs tries; Thurston 5 goals) d BALLINA 36 (M Aubusson 3, R Campbell 2, J O'Connor, D Buckley tries; J Bolt 4 goals).
Reserve grade: Cudgen 30 d Ballina 6.
Under-18s: Ballina 26 d Cudgen 4.