Seagulls swoop for victory

THE return of front-rower Dylan Montgomery was always going to be a valuable one for the Ballina Seagulls in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition.

Montgomery delivered a memorable performance in the 30-24 grand final win against Murwillumbah at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina, at the weekend.

He was voted player of the match by the NRRRL management group.

Montgomery had been playing in Sydney for a number of years and returned to Ballina in July to start a painting business with younger brother Kane Montgomery.

Kane Montgomery could easily have taken out player of the match honours as well after a dominant performance at lock.

The 2013 success was the culmination of two years of hard work for coach Greg Barnes and his men.

The first grade side was a basket case under Don Dickson in 2011 after many players departed in the off-season.

Barnes was able to bring some of the talent back with a couple of new additions along the way.

He found a way to bring out the best in talented centre Luke Simpson and fullback Brett Kelly who were two of the best players in the competition this year.

"It's been a lot of hard work considering where we were two years ago," Barnes said.

"I knew this was going to be the team to do it, it was just a matter of putting it all together."

Murwillumbah player-coach Damian Quinn was gracious in defeat and proud of his team's effort.

Ballina could have steam-rolled them once they got on top but the Mustangs never gave in.

"Full credit to Ballina, they're a good side," Quinn said.

"We were well behind in the penalty count and it makes it very difficult against a good side.

"But I was really proud of how the boys dug in and were positive the whole time. We're disappointed but we've made the grand final three years in a row and that's something to be proud of."

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