Seagulls win on the rebound
By ADRIAN MILLER
YESTERDAY morning Lachlan Flannery wasn't even going to be playing first-grade for Ballina in their Retravision Northern League clash against Casino RSM.
But by yesterday afternoon he was the hero for his side as his hat-trick of tries helped the Seagulls to a 40-22 win over the Cougars in Casino.
It was a come-from-behind win for the 'Gulls after Casino raced to a 10-0 lead after tries to Grant Brown and Mathew Roberts in the first 10 minutes.
Ballina only had themselves to blame, however, after fullback Justin Carter and winger Anthony Perry both dropped bombs which led directly to the Casino scores.
Casino's pack of Travis Falls, Clint Vidler and Brendon Ellis dominated early and made good metres up the middle of the park, but it wasn't long before Ballina posted their first score.
Tries to Carter and Flannery gave Ballina a 12-10 lead, before tries to hooker Andrew Battese and Flannery's second saw Ballina extend their lead to 22-10.
The four tries were scored in under 20 minutes; Flannery's second came just after Brown had been sin-binned for dissent, and after a promising start Casino threatened to throw the game away.
But two tries late in the half to Vidler, with his side only having 12 men on the park, saw the teams head to the sheds with the scores locked at 22-all.
Errors had been the problem for both sides in the first half, with five of the eight tries coming directly from mistakes.
Casino's forward pack began strongly in the second half and with Falls, Ellis and Vidler continuing to make good metres they looked likely to score first but it was Ballina's prop Grant Clements, who broke through a tackle 40 metres out from the try line and then out-sprinted the defence, who opened the scoring.
Soon afterwards Flannery nabbed his third after a great cut-out ball from five-eighth Ben Crawford and Ballina had skipped away again.
Ballina, through Ryan and Dane Paczkowski, Killingbeck and Clements began to dominate territory and with Hammond and Crawford running the show the 'Gulls always looked dangerous.
Casino was also making good metres but they were unable to hang onto the ball long enough in dangerous situations to really pressure the opposition.
They eventually came close to scoring through Vidler, Brown and David Briggs, who were all held up over the line, but when Andrew Battese beat about a thousand tackles to score late in the game Ballina had done enough. Seagulls coach Chris Binge said it had been a patchy performance from his side.
"We were good in some sections of the game and not others," he said. "But I'm really impressed because we showed some character after going 10-0 down.
"In the second half we talked about playing our game and completing our sets and not being put off by what they were doing and we achieved that."
Casino coach Cavill Heugh wasn't unhappy with his team either.
"We scored some points with a player in the sin-bin, we made good yards up the middle and our completion rate was a lot better," he said. "We need to work on our reactions to our mistakes but I'm happy because we didn't give in and kept going right to the end."
Rams fire up MARIST Brothers have turned around a disappointing fortnight with a solid 44-12 win over the Grafton Ghosts in Lismore yesterday.
It was a game the Rams were always expected to win but it was the way victory was attained which sat well with coach David Krause.
"We turned a lot of things around today," he said. "Our first half was very impressive and although we got back to our old ways a bit in the second half and dropped down to their level for a period we managed to get ourselves out if it."
Krause said Brothers' first half had been among their best for the season.
"We just stuck to what has worked well for us in the past," he said. "We stuck to our pattern and structure and believed in what we were doing and the boys saw the results."
Krause said Evan Hickling, who shifted to five-eighth from the wing, Wise Kativerata and Mark Sivewright were outstanding, while forwards Luke Scott and Des Maher were solid as always.
"Our back line worked well today which backed up the good forward work so I was pretty happy with them," he said.
In the round's other results, Lower Clarence smashed Cudgen 80-4 in Maclean, South Tweed beat South Grafton 44-32 in Grafton and Murwillumbah beat Tweed Coast 30-18 in Bogangar.
Nthn Rivers beaten IN THE semi-finals of the NSW Country Championships, a late fightback from Northern Rivers Under-18s wasn't enough in Marricksville on Saturday night.
Trailing 10-4 at half time and 26-10 late in the game Northern Rivers stormed back at North Coast to be 26-all before a field goal handed North Coast the win.