Ballina’s Andrew Burke is lifted high in the lineout against Lismore at Quay Reserve, Ballina.
Ballina’s Andrew Burke is lifted high in the lineout against Lismore at Quay Reserve, Ballina. Marc Stapelberg

Seahorses down Lismore

THERE are mistakes that need to be ironed out, players to be found and errors to be erased and plenty more for the coaches and players to consider after the opening round of Far North Coast rugby union.

Ballina Seahorses shaded Lismore 23-13 in a stop-start affair on Saturday at Quays Reserve with both coaches admitting there's plenty to do before next weekend.

While the Seahorses looked good in patches and took away the competition points, starting places are not assured in first grade each week.

"We are going to put the best fit 15 on the park every week and that's the way it's got to be and that's the way it should be," Ballina coach Craig Beare said.

"The enthusiasm was outstanding and that's what helped us shut them out ... I don't think we were ever going to lose that game."

With seven first grade debutants in the Ballina side, Beare has shown his hand early with a strong youth policy but up the hill in Lismore numbers are of a major concern for player/coach Will Cotterill.

"We had a bad preparation where we had to forfeit our reserve grade (match), we're light on numbers with guys away to weddings and funerals," Cotterill said.

"We've met about it, spoke about it so next week we will iron out the problems and work out who we've got in third grade as well and whether we can field the three sides or whether we have to drop one of them and pull third graders up into the reserve grade team."

Lismore's handling errors opened the door for Ballina to score the match-sealing try five minutes before the final whistle.

A forced pass that went to ground was pounced on by Ballina centre Dan Cotes and he scored untouched between the posts.

"Pretty much the whole game when we moved the ball wide with passes we failed, the only time we looked really strong was with the ball in hand," Cotterill said.

"We really didn't have a line out or a scrum in the second half but we stayed within scoring and winning so that means our game around the park was strong."

"I was disappointed with the back line which should have attacked their defensive line more with the ball in hand.

"I tried to convince them that if we attacked like we did there in the last 10 minutes we are pretty unstoppable when we get that role forward.

"With three rounds this comp, first round for us is not training time but its about getting match fitness, about getting the patterns of play in place, its about selecting the strongest squad, it's about hopefully getting two squads - first and second grade - which we'll work on over the next couple of weeks."

In other matches Lennox Head beat Grafton 36-23; Southern Cross University was 24-8 victor over Casino; while Wollongbar Alstonville had the bye.



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