Trojans breach Ballina wall
NORMAL hostilities are set to resume with Lennox Head booking a berth in the Far North Coast rugby union grand final at the expense of minor premiers Ballina.
The Trojans beat the fast-finishing Seahorses 33-29 in their preliminary final at Lyle Park, Wollongbar, on Saturday, setting up another showdown with niggling rivals Lismore City in this weekend's championship-decider.
The Trojans and Greens have been going hammer and tong at each other all season, culminating in a fiery final-round encounter which saw several send-offs and Lennox Head captain Harry Witt suspended for six months on trampling charges.
Trojans coach Paul Jeffery said he wouldn't be surprised if the grand final against Lismore was another rugged encounter.
“They are very physical at the breakdown and they like to stamp their authority whichever way they can, but I hope that is not the case,” he said.
“They are a very well-drilled side, and they were the first team into the grand final, and they deserve to go into it as the favourite.
“We'll have to step up to match their intensity.”
The Trojans were challenged at several stages of Saturday's preliminary final against Ballina and had two players sin-binned in the second half. Yet they led by eight points at half-time and stretched that to 31-17 before the Seahorses hit back.
“Ballina started the game really well and they came out firing and brought a lot of intensity to the breakdown and in their tackles,” Jeffery said.
“We needed to match that and get over the top of that and when we had the lead out to 30-17 we should have really put the sword to them and rammed home our authority but a couple of bounces of the ball went their way.”
Best players for the Trojans included Luke Schaefer, Braidon Boniface and NSW country representative Sam Stewart.
For the Seahorses, it was a season that promised much, but in the end delivered little.
Although they claimed the minor premiership on the back of a 10-game winning streak to start the season, they bowed out with six straight losses.
“Although I was very pleased with the team's effort, it's very easy to look at these things with hindsight,” Ballina coach Andrew Grant-Frost said.
“The players and myself know that we had the team that could have won the grand final but we must accept that we took the wrong options during the last three games.”
Grant-Frost tipped Lennox Head to beat Lismore City in the grand final which will be played on Saturday at Crozier Field in Lismore.
“I have to back Lennox because of the strength they have in the backs and their forwards are well-drilled,” he said.
“Lennox Head have played together for the past two seasons without making too many changes and they have a good understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses.”