Ballina pay high price for win
BALLINA dominated the breakdown, Ballina controlled possession, and Ballina will face Lennox Head in the FNCRU grand final after easily disposing of Wollongbar-Alstonville 39-15 at Lismore Rugby Park on Saturday.
The Seahorses played all over the top of the Pioneers in the sudden-death semi-final – they gave it everything they had and the win has come at a cost.
Mick McGregor’s back three was sensational on Saturday; 13 points came from the boot of fullback Luke Watling, winger Rick Randall scored a double, and Ben Robinson was consistently elusive on the opposite flank.
But the Seahorses are staring down the barrel of a grand final without their strike players as all three copped serious injuries.
Watling busted ligaments in his knee, Randall was seriously concussed, and Robinson dislocated his shoulder, leaving McGregor sifting through wreckage on Sunday.
“It was a real battle out there on Saturday,” he said.
“We gave everything we had to get through to the grand final and it has certainly come at a price.”
After taking a beating from the physical Pioneers a light week at training looms for the Seahorses.
“We might have to just sit around and play cards, everyone is that sore,” he said.
But he is far from conceding.
Ballina posed the most trouble for the undefeated Lennox Head through season 2010 – in two matches they lost by 10-6 and 27-19.
McGregor is confident that with a repeat of the weekend’s performance his Seahorses can turn the tables.
“If our forwards turn up and play like that again Lennox will certainly know they are in a game,” he said.
“But Lennox are the benchmark for sure – have been for three years now.”
The Seahorses set a goal to make the grand final at the start of the year – they have satisfied that but like McGregor said: “Anything can happen on grand final day”.
Ballina shot out to an early lead against the Pioneers but a try on half-time brought the margin back to 22-15 at the break.
Adam Thompson was yellow-carded for a professional foul after oranges and the Pioneers launched attack after attack only to be repelled by a spirited defence led by Chad Duensing and Liam Preston.
McGregor admitted that it ‘got a bit hairy’ in the second-half but the Pioneers were unable to crack the Seahorses line which remained in-tact the entire second 40.
After a quiet week the Seahorses will take on the minor premiers and two-time defending champions, Lennox Head, at Crozier Field, Lismore, next Saturday.