Gulls are flying high

BALLINA continued its unbeaten march in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League by shrugging off a dogged Mullumbimby outfit to run away 34-4 winners at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, yesterday.

For almost an hour it was a dour struggle, the score stagnating at 8-4, then in the twinkling of an eye the classy Seagulls halves tore the Giants’ defence apart and the floodgates opened.

First it was Ben Crawford jinking through the line to put Dean Ihalainen over, then minutes later Andrew Battese fed a ball to Robbie Miles who proved impossible to stop close to the line.

The Giants, sapped of energy after a brutal opening hour, couldn’t stem the flow of points as the Seagulls rode the momentum home.

Ihalainen’s try was just deserts for an outstanding front-rower’s display, as was Damian Sironen’s four-pointer.

The teenage tyro bent the line back with every run and his leg drive kept him going as he offloaded to probing team-mates.

Representative five-eighth Crawford pulled the strings as the Seagulls clicked into gear, his kicking and passing game dominant.

Chase Nelson tried hard in the loss but didn’t have much support from his outside men; captain Jared Flick was the standout in the middle of the ruck.

Mullumbimby had all the early running – the Seagulls crossing the halfway line with ball in hand only once in the opening 20 minutes – and posted first points through winger James Chester.

The visitors looked to be on the board again when Robbie Goodacre popped a pass for Robbie Wark but the referee ruled a forward pass.

Ballina finally held the ball and got some field position to open their account.

An under-ball for a steaming Sironen provided the points from close to the line.

Brotherly intuition was enough for the ’Gulls to rack a up a freakish try as the game wound down, centre Dan Gibson throwing a no-look flick pass to his brother Matt as the winger came infield.

The defence was left to clutch at air as the crowd was rewarded with a piece of brilliance.

Ballina will travel to Murwillumbah next weekend, while the Giants look to get back in the winners’ circle against Grafton Ghosts.

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