Casino halfback Kurt Russell.
Casino halfback Kurt Russell. Contributed

Confidence is key for Bulls

CONFIDENCE will be key for Casino when they take on Ballina in Far North Coast rugby union at Quays Reserve, Ballina, today.

The Bulls have led at half-time against top-four teams Byron Bay and Lennox Head this season only to be run down in the second half.

"It's a confidence thing because our fitness is there,” Casino coach Doug Murray said.

"We had a bit of bad luck against Byron Bay; we should have beaten them.

"A ball comes flying off the post and they score a late try to win it.

"I felt sorry for the boys and I even said after the game I don't know when our luck will change and when we'll get the rub of the green.”

Ballina are in fifth spot, having played only two games this season, but will be the toughest challenge for the young Bulls.

The Seahorses have beaten defending premiers Wollongbar-Alstonville and welcome back front-rower Sam Pearce, who has made the NSW Country Cockatoos training camp.

For Casino, the versatile Ben Collinson and Kurt Russell are sharing the halfback role while hooker Jake Clark is only 20 in a team where most of players are under the age of 25.

"We're a young side and our best years are still ahead of us,” Murray said.

"The aim is to be a top four side and I think we have the determination to get there.

"Ballina are a good team but we've done our homework and we'll be competitive.”

It is also the Len Diett memorial game where his contributions to FNC rugby will be recognised.

Diett played an important role in the development of rugby union in Ballina and on the Far North Coast.

In particular he established the FNC Under-19 competition and coached the Ballina High School team that competed successfully in the statewide Waratah Shield.

All supporters and players, past and present, are invited to attend the game, remember Len Diett and pay their res- pects to his family.

There will be an informal presentation following the first grade game with food and refreshments available for all.

Kick-off is 3.15pm.

Meanwhile, Byron Bay welcomes back hooker Josh Smith for its clash with Bangalow at Byron Bay Recreation Ground.

Byron have also named flanker Evan Mallory in the front row in what should be a physical battle in the forwards.

Bangalow captain Dan Rollinson will be be brimming with confidence after his NSW Country selection.

Elsewhere, Casuarina will be at home to Lismore City and Southern Cross University hosts Wollongbar-Alstonville at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore.

Ballina: 1 Sam Pearce, 2 Luke Sipple, 3 Callam Turner, 4 Josh Hickey, 5 Aidan Edwards, 6 Nick Brydon (c), 7 Andrew Burke, 8 Jake Smith, 9 Mitch Knight, 10 Grant Knight, 11 Terry Ferguson, 12 Anthony Lolohea, 13 Joel Staude, 14 Joel Noble, 15 Tom Watson. Coach: Chris Hickey.

Casino: 1 Blake Birmingham (c), 2 Jake Clark, 3 Scott Kenny, 4 Nathan Davy, 5 Callum McLennan, 6 Marcus Cusack, 7 Elliott Birmingham, 8 Josh Fuller, 9 Ben Collison, 10 Stephen Murchie, 11 Jason Birney, 12 Glen Pollard, 13 Rusiate Loganimasi, 14 Saimoni Rokowaqa, 15 Harrison Cusack. Coach: Doug Murray.

Referee: Peter Campbell.

Byron Bay: 1 Matthew Sloyan, 2 Josh Smith, 3 Evan Mallory, 4 Joffrey Common, 5 Cash Chapman, 6 William Rudkin, 7 Bedwyr Davies, 8 Dru Baggaley, 9 Blake Whittakar, 10 James Bulmer, 11 Michael Cooney, 12 Joel Stocks, 13 Jordan Foster, 14 Loik Masvidal, 15 Jascha Saeck (c). Coach: Jeff Watts.

Bangalow: 1 Isaac Hill, 2 Omar Sella, 3 Simeli Miranalasekula, 4 Jock Craigie, 5 Angus Dickson, 6 Matthew Drew, 7 Ryan Biscoe, 8 Dan Rollinson (c), 9 Tim Cohen, 10 Tom Slater, 11 Chris Bleakley, 12 Ryan Duffy, 13 Vincent Young, 14 Harley Williams, 15 Jack Simeoni. Coach: Marty Clapp.

Referee: Graham Cook.

Southern Cross University: 1 Pat Kelly, 2 Kirk Taylor-Brown, 3 Mitchell Bird, 4 Riley Spencer, 5 Matt Murray, 6 Ben Prozinski, 7 Grant McPherson, 8 Matt Anderson, 9 Will Hawkins, 10 Matt McMullen, 11 Jake Henry, 12 Aaron Ashley, 13 Hamish Clacher, 14 Pat Wilton, 15 Michael McMullen. Coach: Josh Condon.

Wollongbar-Alstonville: 1 Matt Wright, 2 Austin Markwort, 3 Benji Tiatia, 4 Matt Scott (c), 5 Nick Pennisi, 6 Josh Galbraith, 7 Hamish Mould, 8 Vaughan Sandral, 9 Louis Hollman, 10 Ben Damen, 11 Jason Walsh, 12 Jaiden McDonald, 13 James Vidler, 14 Angus Thearle, 15 Sam Kerry. Coach: Ern Sandral.

Referee: Al Thomas.

Casuarina Beach: 1 Michael Hall, 2 Dan Heritage (c), 3 Dale Salmon, 4 Arthur Blin, 5 Chris Farrell, 6 Geoff Wallis, 7 James McMahon, 8 Timoci Rokosuka, 9 Matt Burgess, 10 Vitori Buatava, 11 Webb Lillis, 12 Nathan Croft, 13 Jamie Laidlaw, 14 Jaden Wakefield, 15 Kai George. Coach: Adam Leach.

Lismore: 1 Greg Martin, 2 Kenny Gaffney, 3 Chris Doolan, 4 Damien Cootes, 5 Ben Briggs, 6 Stephen Prosser, 7 Brendan Williams (c), 8 Nigel Marshall, 9 Josh Creighton, 10 William Fairweather, 11 Sam Johnston, 12 Joel Spoor, 13 Sam McRae, 14 Andrew Sky, 15 Rory Richardson. Coach: Ray Taylor.

Referee: Matthew Clayton.

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