Seagulls miss by two points
A single goal or half a try. That is how close the Ballina Seagulls came to a place in the NRRRL Charity Shield final next Sunday.
The Seagulls, along with Grafton’s Ghosts and Rhinos and Murwillumbah’s Mustangs, are the four teams that remained undefeated after two rounds of the reformed pre-season competition, with the Ghosts to host the final, where they will play rivals, Rhinos.
Ballina and the Mustangs will play off for third.
The Seagulls produced a gutsy win to advance to the prizemoney weekend, fighting back from a 6-0 half-time deficit to overhaul Cudgen 28-6 at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff, on Saturday.
But a few hours earlier the Rhinos had racked up a 50-30 win over Casino and finished two points ahead of Ballina on for-and-against.
Ballina football manager Max Beecher was obviously disappointed his men had missed the final by such a small margin, but wasn’t going to let it bother him too much.
“Of course we would love to be playing in the final but we couldn’t have asked for any more from the boys,” Beecher said.
“We drew two tough games in Brothers and Cudgen, so to get two wins is pretty impressive.”
Missing their halfback and captain Brent Peterson, the Seagulls struggled for rhythm early against Cudgen, but playmakers Andrew Battese and Ben Crawford went up a gear after half-time to run in five unanswered tries.
Back-up half Matt Gibson is sure to find himself a spot in the 17 after a determined effort in defence where he cut down plenty of heavy Cudgen traffic which had been directed his way all day.
In other Charity Shield games on Saturday, Murwillumbah sneaked past Mullumbimby 20-12 and Grafton Ghosts belted Kyogle 66-6.
Yesterday, Marist Brothers ran out convincing 46-12 winners over Tweed Coast; Lower Clarence left Evans Head winless with a 30-14 victory; and Byron Bay upset Northern United 32-16.