Lennox sneaks fourth spot in FNC rugby
A DESPERATE Lennox Head has secured fourth spot despite a 29-24 loss to Casuarina in the final round of Far North Coast rugby union.
The home side went into survival mode at Williams Reserve, Lennox Head, on Saturday once the Barbarians had skipped ahead 29-14 midway through the second half after a try out wide to fullback Trent Ryan.
With Casuarina beyond two converted tries the Trojans shifted focus to scoring another two tries for a bonus point or reducing the full-time margin to less than seven for a finals spot.
Lennox Head No8 Mackenzie Winchester scored his second try of the game with seven minutes to go before a penalty goal to centre Billy Goldsmith got them to 29-24.
Trojans five-eighth Hugo Marks elected to kick the ball out from the back of a line-out near halfway to secure a rematch with Casuarina in the minor semi-final this weekend.
"We didn't really want to be chasing tries or points, we were thinking win but it was smart at the end to take that penalty,” Lennox Head coach Rob Fish said.
"Our execution was terrible and it was how we reacted to the pressure of needing to score tries.
"We'll get better next week; worrying about other results and for and against points never works well.”
Casuarina jumped out to an early 12-0 lead in the first half before Goldsmith chased down a kick infield from winger Marty McNamara to score under the crossbar.
The Barbarians were dominant in the forwards with halfback Webb Lillis scoring from the back of a pushover scrum to take it to 17-7.
The Trojans got some relief with experienced front-rower Curtis Miles, second-rower Keith Pickett and flanker Jack Tyndall coming on from the bench at the 30-minute mark.
They started to gain the upper hand with a try to Winchester narrowing the margin to 17-14 and could have taken a penalty goal to square things up just before the break.
"The older boys are a bit slower but they gave us some muscle in the forwards when we were on the back foot,” Fish said.
"We got a good 20 minutes out of them and I thought we could have scored a few more tries in that first half.
"We lost a playmaker to a yellow card at a crucial part of the game and that's twice where that's hurt us in recent weeks.”
Marks was yellow-carded for a high tackle after Casuarina lost centre Hiroshi Takeyama for 10 minutes for a late shot just after half-time.
In other games, Casino racked up a century in a 113-17 win over Lismore at Albert Park, Casino, but still missed the top four due to Lennox Head picking up a bonus point.
Ballina warmed up for the major semi-final with a 64-26 win over Grafton; Byron Bay downed Southern Cross University 52-0; and Wollongbar had few problems in cruising past Bangalow 56-0.
Casuarina Beach 29 (Webb Lillis 2, Matt Worland 2, Kai George tries; Webb Lillis 2 conversions) d Lennox
Head 24 (Mackenzie Winchester 2, Billy Goldsmith tries; Billy Goldsmith 3 conversions, penalty goal). Half-time: Casuarina 17-14.
Casino 113 (Josefa Lalabalavu 3, Wilson Lovokuro 3, Nick Benn 2, Stephen Murchie 2, Harrison Cusack, Craig Connelly, Jacob Dunn, Korey Bennett, Nathan Davy, Brock Armstrong tries; Harrison Cusack 13, Blake Bermingham conversions) d
Lismore 17 (Sam Nilon 2, Angus MacDougall tries; Jack Everingham conversion). Half-time: 63-5.
Ballina 64 (Tom Watson 2, Beau Clarke 2, Nick Watson 2, Jakob O'Connor, Nat Hooper, Brett Johnston tries; penalty try; Tom Watson 6 conversions) d Grafton 26 (Luke Worthing, Dom Bullock, Kyle Hancock, Ryan Spies tries; Luke Worthing 3 conversions). Half-time: 21-all.
Byron Bay 52 (Will Aisake, Ed Randall, Erik Rademacher, Jascha Saeck, Mark Howard, Blake Whittakar, James Atkins, Robert O'Reilly tries; Tom Brooks 4, Peter Gillespie 2 conversions) d Southern Cross University 0. Half-time: 19-0.
Wollongbar-Alstonville 56 (James Vidler 3, Hamish Mould, Franklin Calugay, Reece Brown, Sam Kerry, Matt Nean tries; Sam Kerry 8 conversions) d Bangalow 0. Half-time: 14-0.
Final pointscore: Wollongbar 87, Ballina 73, Casuarina 67, Lennox Head 55, Casino 54, Grafton 46, Byron Bay 42, SCU 21, Lismore 19, Bangalow 14.
Reserve grade: Wollongbar 33 d Mullumbimby 12, Ballina 57 d Grafton 5, Lennox Head 41 d Casuarina Beach 21, Casino 30 d Lismore 0.
Women's sevens: SCU 24 d Byron Bay 20, Wollongbar 50 d Yamba 5, Ballina 30 d Grafton 0.
President's Cup: Evans River 27 d Tenterfield 5, Iluka 26 d Yamba 24, Ballina 40 v Grafton 12.
Minor semi-finals on Saturday at Maurie Ryan Oval, East Lismore:
First grade at 3.15pm: Casuarina Beach v Lennox Head. Reserve grade at 1.50pm: Ballina v Lennox Head. Women's sevens at 1.20pm: Yamba v Casino. President's Cup at 12 noon: Ballina v Iluka.