PASS MARK: Murwillumbah hooker Sam Panting sends the ball wide against Casino at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, on Sunday. Panting remains a chance of overtaking Andrew Battese for the NRRRL Player of the Year award.
PASS MARK: Murwillumbah hooker Sam Panting sends the ball wide against Casino at Queen Elizabeth Park, Casino, on Sunday. Panting remains a chance of overtaking Andrew Battese for the NRRRL Player of the Year award. Marc Stapelberg

Hookers make running for top award

MURWILLUMBAH hooker Sam Panting is the player most likely to challenge Ballina rake Andrew Battese for the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League Player ofthe Year award.

Battese has led all season with Panting and Byron Bay hooker Cale Rowston close behind.

Voting has not been revealed since the 10th round of the competition but the clash between the Seagulls and Murwillumbah in the final round could be crucial in deciding the winner.

Panting has had his best season in the top grade and performed well enough to start ahead of Battese in the Northern Rivers representative side.

Panting's teammate Tim James could be a dark horse for the award after strong performances in recent weeks.

He was one point behind Panting and a two-try effort in a dominant display against the Casino Cougars at the weekend should be enough to keep the 122kg second-rower in the race.

Cougars front-rower Jacob Mayer is a long-shot but still in with a chance behind James.

Mayer has been a standout all season in a side that has won only two games.

Grafton Ghosts' recent form slump has hurt the chances of five-eighth Dan Roberts.

Roberts hasn't received any points since the eighth round with Ghosts losing three from four.

Casino RSM Club is sponsoring the player of the year award for all three grades and will host the NRRRL presentation night in September.

Leading points:

Andrew Battese 15

Sam Panting 10

Cale Rowston 10

Tim James 9

Jacob Mayer 8

Dan Roberts 7

No margin for error

WITH three rounds to go before the semi-finals in the NRRRL, Evans Head and Marist Brothers would need to win every game and rely on other favourable results to break into the top five.

Competition points: Murwillumbah 24, Grafton Ghosts 20, Ballina 20, Northern United 19, Byron Bay 18, Evans Head 14, Marist Brothers 12, Kyogle 12, Casino 6, Mullumbimby 5, Lower Clarence 4.

Evans Head and Marist Brothers havea game in hand.

Next round: Marist Brothers v Lower Clarence, Murwillumbah v Evans Head, Mullumbimby v Casino, Byron Bay vKyogle, Northern United v Grafton Ghosts. Ballina bye.



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