Ballina buries Mustangs in the mud
A CONFIDENT Ballina made light work of Murwillumbah in the wet with a convincing 44-6 win in Ladbrokes Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.
A superior kicking game from Seagulls captain-coach Jamie Lyon paved the way for the win today as Ballina ran in seven unanswered tries after conceding early points.
The competition leaders outplayed Murwillumbah in every facet in a game which should have suited the bigger Mustangs pack.
But the mud pit nullified the Mustangs' speed men and their best weapons, wingers Liam Cusack and Jack Bishop, were rarely sighted in attack.
Front-rowers Nic Ritter and Andrew Bracek led the way for Ballina while second-rower Anthony Colman finished with a try-scoring double.
"We gave ourselves the best chance by completing our sets and holding the ball better than they did,” Lyon said.
"I was a bit concerned about the conditions but it probably helped us in the end where we were able to get around them in the ruck.
"We got them out wide, too, we kicked from good positions and our forwards always had us on the front foot.”
Ballina were always going to be hard to run down once they skipped ahead 20-6 with a penalty goal early in the second half.
The Mustangs made it harder on themselves with silly penalties for tackling players off the ball which helped give Colman a smooth run to the tryline for his second.
Front-rower Remi Vignau gave away a penalty for a high tackle and was sin-binned from the next play when he came in with another high shot.
Seagulls centres Ray Buchanan and Liam Anderson ran in late tries to rub more salt into the wounds.
"We got more shots at them in attack and it probably showed when we ran in a few late ones,” Lyon said.
"We're going all right, I'm happy with we're at but there's a long way to go yet.”
In other NRRRL games:
Casino had a hard-fought 18-10 win over Kyogle at New Park, Kyogle.
Byron Bay had its biggest win of the season, 51-24 over Cudgen at Byron Bay.
Tweed Coast proved too strong for Mullumbimby 18-10 at Les Burger Field, Cabarita.
The game between Marist Brothers and Northern United was washed out.