Ballina lock Matt Painter takes another hit-up against Murwillumbah in NRRRL on Sunday.
Ballina lock Matt Painter takes another hit-up against Murwillumbah in NRRRL on Sunday. Mitchell Craig

Ballina blow big lead in NRRRL

BALLINA blew a 16 point lead when they were beaten in the final minute 28-26 against Murwillumbah in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.

It is a big win for Murwillumbah who were behind most of the game with five-eighth Riley Yates stepping his way around Ballina fullback Alex Grant to score the match winner.

It is not panic stations yet for the Seagulls who were without front-rower Dylan Montgomery and had another four players backing up from representative duty on Saturday.

Fullback Oliver Regan has moved into the centres while Grant has shifted from the halves to fullback.

Both scored tries and Grant almost scored a second which would have given the Seagulls a 22-4 lead late in the first half.

"We're in and out of games at the moment, not controlling the ball and not completing sets," Ballina coach Mick Foster said.

"We left the door open long enough to give them a chance and they were good enough to take it."

"But we're a good enough team ourselves and we should be a lot better than that."

The Seagulls looked like they would go on with it when second-rower Simon Fokes scored out wide to extend the lead to 26-10 midway through the second half.

Murwillumbah always looked dangerous when they had possession and a beautiful cross-field kick from halfback Wayde Kelly resulted in a try to winger Jack Bishop.

It set up a tense final six minutes after Theo Da Poian scored out wide to reduce the margin to 26-22.

Murwillumbah played well out wide with centre Jake Vickery while front-rower Remi Vignau and replacement centre Dylan Nash proved a handful for the Seagulls.

Earlier, Ballina front-rower Nicholas Ritter created some opportunities with his offload while winger Justin Bleakley went over unmarked to give Ballina a 12-4 lead in the first half.

Grant scored soon after from some great support play to extend the lead to 18-4

Murwillumbah never stopped coming and a floater from five-eighth Chris Binge resulted in an intercept try to centre Caleb Howell to reduce the margin to 18-10 just before the break.

Murwillumbah 28 (J Bishop 2, C Howell, T Da Poian, R Yates tries; W Kelly 4 goals) d Ballina 26 (O Regan, J Bleakley, A Grant, A Battese, S Fokes; A Battese 3 goals).

In other games, Marist Brothers belted Northern United 56-12 in the Lismore derby at Crozier Field.

Cudgen won a high-scoring game against Mullumbimby 44-36 at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff.

Tweed Coast beat Kyogle 38-8 at New Park, Kyogle.

Lower Clarence had a hard-fought 14-12 win over Byron Bay at the Yamba Sports Complex.

Casino Cougars had a 42-28 win over Evans Head on Saturday.



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