Hard-fought win for Seagulls in NRRRL grand final
BALLINA has won its fourth premiership in five years after a hard-fought 32-24 win over Cudgen in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final.
Cudgen played almost the whole game with 12 men after lock Anthony Flores was sent off in the opening minutes for a spear tackle on Ballina halfback Jess Perry.
Flores had three attempts at the legs of Perry and he was lucky he was not seriously hurt in the tackle.
Ballina front-rower Dylan Montgomery was sin-binned for attempting to get to Flores before play eventually settled down.
Ballina kicked a penalty goal before Cudgen dug deep and scored three straight tries to take a 14-2 lead.
However, Cudgen shot themselves in the foot multiple times giving away penalties while in posession of the ball while front-rower Tim James was sin-binned for a verbal spray.
Cudgen second-rower Caleb Ziebell had a hand in most tries for his team and he was awarded player-of-the match in a losing effort.
A beautiful short ball from Ziebell put lock Pat Rosser over and they jumped out to a 20-8 lead.
The Seagulls kept turning up and a try on the stroke of half-time to five-eighth Alex Grant narrowed the margin to 20-14.
Second-rower Justin Shillingsworth produced his usual whole-hearted performance for Ballina and locked things up at 20-all when he scored a determined try.
Fullback Oliver Regan was outstanding for Ballina and was rewarded with a crucial try which put the Seagulls back in front at 26-20
A miracle ball from Ziebell kept Cudgen in it when he got a hand free and put winger Connah Mills over for his second try of the afternoon.
Grant nailed the killer blow in the 70th minute when he threw a ball out the back which resulted in a try in the corner to hard-working second-rower Anthony Colman.
In other games, it was a double celebration for Ballina who took out the Under-18s grand final 26-18 in extra-time against Casino.
Marist Brothers completed an undefeated season with a late try to lock Luke Campbell sealing a 20-12 win over Cudgen in reserve grade.
And Byron Bay won the women's league tag 12-8 over Marist Brothers.
See The Northern Star on Wednesday for photos and report on the lower grades.