BATTLING ON: Ballina front-rower Nick Ritter had to be bandaged up after an early head clash in the grand final.
BATTLING ON: Ballina front-rower Nick Ritter had to be bandaged up after an early head clash in the grand final. Mitch Craig

'No words can describe this': Raiders take it home to Tweed

TWEED Coast has won its first Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League premiership with a convincing 24-4 win over Ballina in the grand final at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.

Hooker Dan Willoughby picked up official player-of-the-match honours and it was his try that gave the Raiders a 18-4 lead when he burrowed over midway through the second half.

Tweed Coast halfback Tahne Robinson dominated the second half with his kicking game in his best performance in the NRRRL finals series.

Robinson, 19, is a Casino junior and was the Raiders' key signing this season along with premiership-winning NRL front-rower Brent Kite, who coached the side.

"They gave me an opportunity when I moved away from Casino and this is the best feeling I've ever had," Robinson said.

"No words can describe this, we've been training since November and we wanted this one all year.

"Our forwards are the most harmless blokes off the field but they've led us around and given me a platform to play off all season."

Ballina never looked settled from the kick-off and they made an error in the opening set of six tackles which resulted in a try to Tweed Coast second-rower Scott McLennan.

The Seagulls hit back with a try to centre Oliver Regan and should have taken the lead when what looked to be a try to fullback Alex Grant was called back for a forward pass after he went over under the cross-bar.

Tweed Coast won the game with their efforts straight after half-time with a try to Daryl Brooks and a penalty goal to Robinson extending the lead to 12-4.

The Willoughby try put them ahead by another six points before second-rower Connor Hickey went in under the cross-bar.

"I was a little emotional when Connor Hickey crashed over and I had to put the sunglasses on," Kite said.

"It has been a lot of work this season but I'm so happy that I can give something like this back to the game."

Captain Guy Lanston said after the game that it had been a three-year effort to get this point and that none of the players had been paid to play at the club.

In the other grand finals yesterday, Marist Brothers were relentless in a 32-4 win over Murwillumbah to complete a second straight undefeated season with 40 straight wins.

The Mustangs finished the game with three players in the sin bin while halfback Wally Kelly capped a man-of-the-match performance with his third try of the afternoon.

Ballina won its third straight premiership with a convincing 30-4 win over Cudgen in a one-sided Under- 18s grand final.

And the Marist Brothers Ramettes won the ladies league tag decider 14-6 over Byron Bay.

READ MORE ON NRRRL GRAND FINAL DAY INSIDE ON PAGE 31



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