Casino blow Ghost of chance
CASINO blew a golden opportunity in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League on Saturday to be the first team to knock off Grafton Ghosts – though the 72-18 scoreline would suggest otherwise.
The giant Casino pack stuck it to the competition front-runners at Frank McGuren Park, Grafton, to lead 12-6 well into the first half.
But a moment of madness gave Ghosts the invitation they needed to run riot.
Back-rower Sefa Silafau felled Ghosts’ Ryan Danvers with a high shot late in the first half and Danvers got up swinging, sparking an all-in brawl.
Silafau was given his marching orders, Casino dropped their heads, and Ghosts ran in 11 further tries to maintain their lofty position atop the NRRRL ladder.
Silafau had been the man leading the charge against the vaunted Ghosts pack and, if nothing else, may have provided a blueprint for teams to match the competition favourites in the run-in to the semi-finals.
Cougars club president Brad Birney thinks so.
“Ghosts can be beaten,” he said.
“We stuck it to their forwards and were on top physically, but once we lost Sefa it was always going to be tough.
“Sides with physical forward packs like Brothers and Byron, if they can go for the 80 minutes, they can beat Ghosts for sure.”
Bell on song
ROY BELL scored five tries and booted 10 goals as Northern United belted Lower Clarence 60-20 at Crozier Field, Lismore, on Saturday.
The Magpies led 12-0 early in the match after United had a swag of players withdraw from the game, but once Bell’s engine warmed upit was one-way traffic.
The former South Sydney Rabbitoh is revelling in his role since switching to the halves a monthago with United racking up four easy wins in that time.
With Phillip Bundock, David Briggs jnr and Fred Pitt all unavailable, Gary Roberts was thrown into the custodian role to add to the list of positions he has played this season.
Gulls’ gutsy win
BALLINA stayed in the top five with a tough 28-10 win over Evans Head at Stan Payne Oval, Evans Head, on Saturday.
The Seagulls started slowly as the Bombers scored first to take a lead but back-rower Robbie Miles got Ballina going with a pair of line breaks that led to tries.
Dean Ihalainen returned from a knee injury in intimidating fashion, rocking the stands with a series of bell-ringing shots on the Bombers forwards.
Seagulls captain and five-eighth Ben Crawford liked the look of his side with Ed Killingbeck and Dane Clarke now running out in the centres.
“Those boys really stiffen us up,” he said.
“Teams can try to go through us but no one is going to go through those two – they really lift the intensity in the line.”
And Crawford put in a good word for the opposition.
“Evans have a great set of forwards – they are probably the best side in the competition outside the top five,” he said.
CUDGEN moved into second spot by belting Tweed Coast 76-0 at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff.
The Hornets are equal with Marist Brothers on 16 competition points but now have a superior for-and-against after the Round 11 whitewash.
Grafton Rhinos leapfrogged Murwillumbah into equal sixth spot with a 32-26 win over the Mustangs.
Both sides sit in the logjam for a finals spot with only two wins separating second from eighth.