Seahorses shock top of table Bulls
By STEVE SPINKS
A FORMER arch enemy was one of Ballina's best as the Seahorses shocked competition leaders Casino 34-19 in round 13 of Bangalow Hotel Far North Coast rugby union at the Quays Reserve, Ballina, on Saturday.
Hooker Brent Horan used to be one of Ballina's most difficult opponents.
The powerfully-built rake was the former captain of the Byron Bay first grade side before the Rangers dropped to the lower grades.
He was known for his fiery approach towards his rugby and opponents alike.
But on Saturday, Horan's scrum led the way as Ballina knocked over the Bulls.
In fact, the Seahorses scored an early psychological blow, scoring their first try from a pushover scrum.
The fact that Casino has been the top scrum in Far North Coast rugby for so long counted for little as No8 Sonny Filimoehala plunged over to give the hosts an early lead which they never squandered.
"We've got a pretty handy front row," Ballina coach Karl Lupton said.
"But I don't think I've seen us score a pushover against Casino.
"Maybe back in the early 90s."
Horan came to Ballina from Byron via Western Australia.
"When he first rang me to talk about playing he asked me if I remembered him," Lupton chuckled.
"He said that he used to be the Byron captain and he and I used to have a go at each other."
Lupton said Horan's scrummaging strength and his lineout throwing has really improved the Seahorses effort.
Accordingly, the Ballina eight won enough quality ball for their outstanding outside backs to take control.
Andrew Gordon, Kane Scott, Adam Gaiter and Matt Wiggins all played strongly in the backline for the victors.
The Seahorses led 15-13 at half-time and the scores were still tight at 22-19 with 20 minutes to go.
But some stunning counter-attacks by Gordon, Scott, Gaiter and Wiggins ensured a home victory.
It also knocked Casino off the competition lead as Lismore defeated Yamba.
Casino No8 Chris Conte played strongly for the Bulls, while debutant flanker Shaun Makings showed he was up to first grade standard.
Short-handed Students cop 42-16 lesson
A depleted Southern Cross University were dealt a 42-16 lesson by Grafton at Grafton Rugby Park.
The Students were reeling with a lack of numbers due to the Uni mid-semester break, but coach Matt Want managed to scrape a team together for the match.
The Gold Rats were hindered further by having to transfer their home game to Grafton because Uni Oval was closed.
But the Redmen could only play what was in front of them and they did in style.
Grafton led 25-16 at half-time and went on with the job in the second-half.
The win solidifies their position in the top four.
Second-rowers Mark Robinson and Al Donaghy, halfback Jason Landrigan (who was playing his 100th club match), winger Brett Graham and No8 Rob Brown stood out for the victors.
Five-eighth Daniel Kedraike, flanker Pete Murphy and hooker Adam Condon tried hard for Uni.
City back on top
LISMORE City has returned to the top of the table with a strong 44-12 victory over Yamba at Yamba.
The Greens scored six tries to two with winger Ben Sloane bagging a double.
City also welcomed back No8 Ray Taylor who has been out with injury for the past month.
He marked his return with a try.
Centre Nigel Marshall and hooker Steve Prosser played strongly for Lismore while fullback Adrian Miller stood tall for the Buccaneers.