Ballina finally knocks Head
BALLINA has broken the drought against neighbours and rivals Lennox Head with a 25-20 win in Far North Coast rugby union.
It was the first time since the opening round of 2009 that Ballina had prevailed over the four-time defending premiers.
Each team scored three tries on Saturday but all of the Seahorses' five-pointers came in the first half as they set up a 19-8 lead at Quays Reserve, Ballina.
"Both sides became a bit sloppy in the second half and their forwards started to get on top," Ballina coach Craig Beare said.
The Lennox Trojans came up with a couple of tries from tight play including a catch-and-drive effort from a line-out.
One of those tries came three minutes from full-time to move to within two points of Ballina at 22-20 but the home team sealed the competition points with a penalty goal in the very last play of the game.
Ballina's best players, according to Beare, were five-eighth Grant Knight, centre Luke Watling, break-away Sean Grace and hooker Aidan Cubis.
It was an unfortunate finale for Lennox hooker Jamie Tredinnick, who played his last game for the club before moving to Melbourne.
But Tredinnick can be satisfied with having been part of four first-grade premierships.
"He scored two tries on Saturday and tried hard throughout," Lennox Head co-coach Paul Jeffrey said, before adding that Tredinnick still had a pretty good record.
"In the time Jamie's been with the club he's played maybe 80 games and lost five."
Jeffey said his team had failed to respond to Ballina's enthusiasm.
"They outplayed us," he said.
"We missed tackles, they didn't, we kicked poorly, they kicked well - they were superior in every facet of the game," he said.
Jeffrey said the second half had been an improvement but even though Lennox Head had a chance to snatch a win they wouldn't have deserved it.
"Ballina did and probably deserved to win by more," he said.
Breakaway Harry Bungate was the Trojans' best.
In the other game on Saturday, Lismore kept Casino scoreless in the second half to post a 22-14 win at Lismore Rugby Park after it had been 14-all at half-time.
Last Thursday night, Wollongbar-Alstonville accounted for Southern Cross University 39-10 at Lyle Park, Wollongbar.
Ballina 25 (Rick Randall, Luke Watling, Ollie Kirk tries; Luke Watling 2 conversions, 2 penalty goals) d Lennox Head 20 (Jamie Tredinnick 3 tries; Mathew Barnes conversion, penalty goal). Half-time: Ballina 19-8.
Wollongbar-Alstonville 39 (Kirk Taylor-Brown, Craig Zietsman, Vincent Chee, Reece Brown, Matt Scott, Shaun Ellis tries; Jake McIntyre 3 conversions, drop goal) d Southern Cross University 10 (Harry Witt try; Matt Anderson conversion, penalty goal). Half-time: Wollongbar 15-10.
Lismore 22 (Ben Felicioni, Jay Onslow, Stephen Hughes tries; Ben Felicioni 2 conversions, Matt Bermingham drop goal) d Casino 14 (Carl Tahatu, Craig Connolly tries; Tom Farr, Jayden Torrens conversions). Half-time: 14-all.
Pointscore: Lennox Head 16, Wollongbar-Alstonville 15, Ballina 12, Southern Cross University 5, Casino 5, Lismore 4, Grafton 4.
Reserve grade: Ballina 30 d Lennox Head 14, Wollongbar-Alstonville 29 d Southern Cross University 0, Lismore 17 d Casino 5.
Under-19s: Lismore 24 d Casino 19.
President's Cup: Bangalow 54 d Mullumbimby 0, Kyogle 19 d Evans River 5, Yamba 36 d Iluka 10, Byron Bay 25 d Grafton 15. Murwillumbah bye.