Ballina battle on in win against Lismore
A FLURRY of late tries sealed a hard-fought 41-34 for Ballina over Lismore in Far North Coast rugby union at Lismore Rugby Park on Saturday.
Ballina five-eighth Tom Watson engineered the second-half fightback with tries to winger Ben Robinson and fullback Joel Staude giving the Seahorses the edge.
City came out firing with second-rower Ben Briggs finishing the first half with a try-scoring double as the Greens took a 22-19 lead.
Ballina were forced into a reshuffle early after losing hooker Brett Johnston (calf) and second-rower Josh Lupton (cheekbone).
Teenager Brad Grono performed well off the bench while second-rower Sam Pearce also had a big impact.
"We were rocked by a few injuries and it was a really tenacious effort to go to Lismore and get a win like that,” Ballina assistant coach Andrew Fraser said.
"Isaac Pratten was strong around the park and we had a couple of broken nose injuries, to him and Andrew Burke.
"Tom (Watson) showed why he was picked for the Country colts and we expect that sort of effort from him now.
"We've woken the sleeping giant with Sam Pearce. His ball-carrying got us on the front foot and we were able to play off the back of that.
"A lot of these kids are still 18 so it's pleasing with how they're performing on the field.
"I think we have all the pieces of the puzzle this season and it's just a matter of putting the players in the positions we need them.”
Wollongbar-Alstonville were made to work for 32-24 win over the Casino Bulls at Albert Park, Casino.
The main concern for the Pioneers was losing five-eighth Ben Damen with a knee injury after he landed awkwardly jumping for the ball.
Elsewhere, Lennox Head centre Brad Lees bagged a try-scoring as Lennox Head defeated Bangalow 36-13 at Williams Reserve, Lennox Head.
And new club Casuarina recorded its second straight win when it edged out Southern Cross University 26-25 at Casuarina.
The Gold Rats scored five tries to two but it was not enough with Casuarina winger Web Lillis slotting four penalty goals.
Lennox Head 36(Brad Lees 2, Paul Crozier, Harry Witt, Hayden Blair tries, Adam Gordon 4 conversions, penalty goal) d Bangalow 13(Tim Cohen, Ben Farrow tries, Adam Musa penalty goal)
Half Time: Lennox 12 - Bangalow 5
Casuarina Beach 26(Jack Jones, Timoci Rokosuka tries, Webb Lillis 2 conversions, 4 penalty goals) d Southern Cross University 25(Dean Wilson 2, Kirk Taylor- Brown, Sydney Gouffault, Latrell Hampton tries)
Half Time: Casuarina 13 - SCU 10
Ballina 41(Oka Lolohea 2, Joel Staude, Ben Robinson, Sam Pearce, Nick Watson tries, Mitch Knight 4 conversions, penalty goal) d Lismore 34(Tim Rice, Cody Johnston, Ben Briggs, Glen Paisley, Nigel Marshall, Will Cotterill tries, Cody Johnston 2 conversions)
Half Time: Lismore 22 - Ballina 19.
Wollongbar-Alstonville 32(Louis Hollman 2, Nick Jones, Nat Regueira tries, Sam Kerry 3 conversions, 2 penalty goals) d Casino 24(Rusiate Loganimasi, Nathan Davy, Taione Ravumaidama, Josefa Lalabalavu tries, Harrison Cusack 2 conversions)
Half Time: Wollongbar 17 - Casino 14
1st Grade Point Score - Wollongbar 20, Lennox Head 18, Ballina 14, Southern Cross University 11, Casino 10, Casuarina Beach 9, Lismore 7, Byron Bay 6, Bangalow 0
Casino 46 d Wollongbar Alstonville 12
Mullumbimby 59 d SCU 5
Lennox Head 55 d Bangalow 5
Ballina 52 d Lismore 7
Evans River 29 d Yamba 26
Iluka 24 d Kyogle 0