TIRELESS EFFORT: Casino lock Hayden Pratt in action in the NRRRL qualifying semi-final against Murwillumbah at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah, today. Pratt was one of the Cougars' best.
TIRELESS EFFORT: Casino lock Hayden Pratt in action in the NRRRL qualifying semi-final against Murwillumbah at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah, today. Pratt was one of the Cougars' best. Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus

Casino get caught out in NRRRL

CASINO has just six days to regroup after being thumped 40-6 by Murwillumbah in the Ladbrokes Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League qualifying final.

The Mustangs have plenty of finals experience and got the jump on the Cougars, running in four tries in the first half for a 22-0 lead at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah, today.

Murwillumbah winger Liam Cusack scored two tries and was denied a third from a forward pass while hooker Joe Besgrove landed a decisive blow with a try next to the sticks in the 39th minute.

Casino captain-coach Roy Bell was disappointed but already looking ahead to the sudden-death clash at home with the Tweed Coast Raiders on Saturday.

"They came out firing and I'm not really sure where our heads were at for that first 20 minutes,” Bell said.

"As an A-grade team it's not acceptable to get beaten by a scoreline like that in a semi-final, especially after the season we've had.

"I told them we should be disappointed but not to dwell on it and we can turn it around at home next week-end.”

The Cougars found some points in the 56th minute when centre David Jacky forced his way over from close to the tryline.

Trailing 22-6, five-eighth Trevor Bolt was starting to find some success down the left edge and it looked like they might have been able to jag a few quick tries.

However, it was all over when Bes-grove scored his second try in the 66th minute, kicking a loose ball ahead over the tryline for the Mustangs to take a 28-6 lead.

Late tries to second-rower Dan Turland and lock Bailey Crompton added salt to the wounds.

Lock Hayden Pratt tackled himself to standstill for the Cougars while fullback Noah King was brave under the high ball and was always dangerous in attack.

"We had a lot of young guys out there but we're not using that as an excuse; we prepared well and just couldn't match it with them,” Bell said.

"I had two 16-year-olds in the team and they had a crack - I can't ask for much more than that.

"You learn from your losses and we'll look to get the season back on track in front of a big home crowd.”

Tweed Coast booked its spot in the minor semi-final with a 20-0 shut-out against Cudgen in the elimination final at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff, on Saturday.

In other games today, Tweed Coast thumped Cudgen 30-4 in reserve grade while Marist Brothers had a 24-10 loss to the Hornets in the Under-18s.

Casino had a hard-fought 12-10 win over Tweed Coast in the ladies league tag.

In other elimination finals on Saturday, Casino ended Northern United's season in reserve grade with a 28-22 win while in the Under-18s Byron Bay downed Murwillumbah 26-10.

Cudgen advanced in ladies league tag by accounting for Byron Bay 10-4.

NEXT WEEKEND:

Minor semi-final on Saturday:

Casino v Tweed Coast

at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino.

Major semi-final on Sunday:

Ballina v Murwillumbah

at Kingford Smith Park, Ballina.



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