Ballina’s dominant display
BALLINA has secured a home grand final after an emphatic 36-6 win in the Novaskill Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League major semi-final against Murwillumbah.
It was a dominant display by the Seagulls who out-muscled and out-enthused the bigger opposition.
Hooker Andrew Battese reminded everyone why he is the best player in the competition with another standout performance.
He made inroads up the middle of the field all afternoon and nailed six conversions.
The Seagulls laid on 36 unanswered points after Murwillumbah drew first blood threw winger Caleb Howell in the opening minutes.
"We got it together today and to beat them up here is huge," Ballina coach Greg Barnes said.
"We defended like we have every other week and we're definitely on a roll.
"You have to be a pretty handy side to get through us or around us."
Wingers Anthony Colman and Brian Kelly were standouts in the first half and scored three tries between them.
The Mustangs were out on their feet for the final 20 minutes and couldn't break the Seagulls defence.
Halfback Nikko Roberts eventually sliced through to give Ballina a commanding 22-6 lead.
Centre Dan Gibson showed his attacking flair when he kicked through from a standing start and regathered to score out wide.
Murwillumbah lost prop Shane Kight to the sin-bin after he gave the referee a spray when his side conceded a penalty.
Battese nailed the penalty goal to put it beyond doubt at 30-6 with 10 minutes remaining.
"Full credit to Ballina, we knew they were physical and fit but just couldn't handle it," Murwillumbah player-coach Damian Quinn said.
"It's a pretty sombre feeling and if we put in another performance like that we'll be gone."
Seagulls front-rowers Dylan Montgomery and Greg Ryan were the best for Ballina along with lock Kane Montgomery.
Brian Kelly was dangerous whenever he touched the ball with his second try giving the Seagulls a handy 16-6 lead at halftime.
Ballina 36 ( Brian Kelly 2, A Colman, N Roberts, D Gibson, A Battese tries; Battese 6 goals) d Murwillumbah 6 (C Howell try; L Covell goal)