TAKING FLIGHT: Ballina centre Rhys Riches shapes up to run against Cudgen in NRRRL at the weekend.
TAKING FLIGHT: Ballina centre Rhys Riches shapes up to run against Cudgen in NRRRL at the weekend. Mitchell Craig

Seagulls slow start in NRRRL

DEFENDING premiers Ballina have started the season with back-to-back losses after going down 18-8 against Cudgen in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League on Sunday.

The Seagulls have had to shuffle their side around and lacked direction at the weekend with captain and halfback Jess Perry out injured.

Fullback Oliver Regan carried a groin injury into the game while centre Michael Dwane and halfback Chris Binge were both playing out of position.

"We've had a high turnover of players and it might take a bit longer to get the combinations going,” Ballina coach Mick Foster said.

"Our backs are against the wall at the moment but we'll dig in and have a go like we always do.

"We completed at under 50 per cent in that first half and our discipline was pretty poor.

"It piggy backed them out of their own half and we definitely have a lot to work on.”

The first try came from an uncharacteristic error at the back from Regan when Cudgen second rower Jason Chan pounced on a loose ball.

Tries to new recruit Anthony Cox and winger Connah Mills with a penalty goal to centre Ben O'Gorman gave Cudgen an 18-0 lead.

Ballina finished the game with tries in the final five minutes to second-rower Justin Shillingsworth and Dwane.

Cudgen has had an ideal start to the season winning both its games after making it as far as the grand final last year.

The Hornets have brothers Sam and Jacob Grant in a new-look halves while second-rower Connor Ziebell has joined his older brother Caleb in the side.

Front-rower Kobi Mills is also due back this week and will join his younger brother Connah.

"It's pretty exciting to have three sets of brothers playing together this year,” Cudgen coach Pat Rosser said.

"We've lost a few key forwards and have new halves but the boys are working hard on their combinations.”

In other games, Casino won its first home game of the season 34-26 against Byron Bay at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Kyogle kick-started its season with a 38-20 win over Lower Clarence at New Park, Kyogle.

Mullumbimby recorded back-to-back wins in a high-scoring 38-34 win over Northern United at Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby.

Tweed Coast Raiders beat the Murwillumbah Mustangs 26-18.

And Marist Brothers beat Evans Head 48-14.



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