Top spot in the bag

LENNOX HEAD just about has the Far North Coast rugby union minor premiership inthe bag after a weekend of favourable results.

The Trojans hammered Casino 55-7 to grab maximum points and with Wollongbar-Alstonville and Ballina unable to be separated at 17-all, the premiers now have a four-point break at the top of the table.

The Pioneers would have to beat Grafton – which is highly likely – and the Trojans would need to go down to Lismore in the final round next weekend for the standings atop the premiership to change.

On Saturday at Lyle Park, Wollongbar, it was the boot of Luke Watling that kept the Ballina Seahorses in the match – he kicked four penalties – before a late try to Rick Randall in the corner gave Watling a shot at a conversion to win.

But the draw was a fitting result, according to Pioneers coach Barry Carpenter.

“Neither side would be disappointed with the result in the end,” he said.

“It was a really good quality game of rugby.”

The battle in the front-row was willing with all six turning up ready to scrap for every ball.

In the end it was Pioneers loosehead prop James Nunn who got the points by earning player of the match.

Carpenter has implemented a few new systems late in the season to freshen up his attack for the finals, which are just two weeks away.

“It’s a bit of a new style for us but we should be firing when it matters most,” he said.

The Trojans, meanwhile, ran in nine tries at Williams Reserve to hand Casino its seventh loss of the season.

Fly-half Mathew Barnes tallied 20 points with two tries and five conversions.

Sam Stewart grabbed his second double in three weeks and Ryan Cupples made the most of his elevation to the top grade with a brace.

Grafton made a race of the wooden spoon by shrugging off Southern Cross University 38-34 at Grafton.

SCU centre Matt Miles bagged a hat-trick for the Gold Rats but it wasn’t enough to keep them safe from the least wanted gong in football.

University has the bye next weekend which means they can only sit back and watch as Grafton take on the Pioneers with a chance to relegate the Gold Rats if they can conquer the second-placed team.

Other games in the final round on Saturday are Lismore against Lennox Head in Lismore, and Ballina hosting Casino at Quays Reserve.

The final four has been decided but there is still some jostling for position to take place between the first and second placed Trojans and Pioneers, and third and fourth placed Greens and Seahorses.

The minor semi-final between third and fourth will be played on August 21.

The major semi-final between the top two teams will be played on August 28.

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