Ballina battles in tough times
A DEPLETED Ballina will look to regroup from injuries and suspensions when it takes on Bangalow in Far North Coast rugby union at Quays Reserve, Ballina, today.
Centre Anthony Lolohea has been the hardest hit and will miss six games after he was red-carded for striking in a 16-12 loss to Casuarina last week.
Five-eighth Grant Knight and No8 Stanley Lolohea were also caught up in the incident and will be sidelined for the next fortnight.
Fullback Tom Watson is nursing a fractured hand from the game while his younger brother Nick looks set to return from an ankle injury.
The Seahorses will also be without coach Chris Hickey in the coming weeks while he is away with other coaching commitments.
"Unfortunately it's a bit of a merry-go-round with injuries, suspensions and blokes away with work commitments at the moment,” assistant coach Andrew Fraser said.
"We've moved on pretty quick and we're lucky that we have guys we can call in.
"It's up to them to step up and make the most of the opportunity now.
"The reality is we have 17 new players across two teams and we're still working on what our best combinations are.”
Ballina is lucky that Nick Watson, the halfback, and five-eighth Beau Clarke played together for most of last season.
Bangalow has been a bogey team for the Seahorses in recent years and centre Kye Spence will relish the challenge against his former club.
"We have plenty of respect for Bangalow and they always seem to trouble us,” Fraser said.
"We're looking for our guys to respond after last week and it all starts with this game.”
Kick-off is 3.15pm.
Byron Bay front-rower Tim Hartmann will return for his team's clash with Wollongbar-Alstonville at Lyle Park, Wollongbar.
Pioneers coach Paul Jeffery is coaching against his former club for the first time since leaving Byron Bay in 2017 after a three-year stint at the club.
Casino will take on Southern Cross University at Crozier Field, Lismore.
The game is being played there after Under-15 and Under-16 NSW Country Championships fixtures, which start today at 8.15am.
Lismore hosts Casuarina at Lismore Rugby Park.
Lennox Head has a tough road trip to Grafton.
Lennox Head 20
Byron Bay 17
Ballina: 1 Isaac Pratten, 2 Siaosi Ofalanga, 3 Callum Turner, 4 Eddy Ragamate, 5 Marcus Lees, 6 Brad Brown (c), 7 Luke Kliese, 8 Inasa Naulivou, 9 Nick Watson, 10 Beau Clarke, 11 Terry Ferguson, 12 Siosuia Koloto, 13 Tupou Lolohea, 14 Leigh Foster, 15 Luke Simpson.
Coach: Chris Hickey.
Bangalow: 1 Sean Petrou, 2 Nick Jones, 3 Neil Moran, 4 Rob Wightman, 5 Angus Dickson, 6 John Turagabeci, 7 Josh Johns, 8 Lachlan Baynham, 9 Ben Alcock, 10 Rowan Ozols (c), 11 Jack Bensley, 12 Dan Hill, 13 Kye Spence, 14 Sam Campbell, 15 Jed Erickson.
Coach: Tim Cohen.
Referee: Will Palmer.
Wollongbar-Alstonville: 1 Matt Wright, 2 Bill Johnston, 3 Benji Tiatia, 4 Matt Scott, 5 Ian Macrae, 6 Josh Galbraith, 7 Austin Markwort, 8 Zak Galbraith, 9 Louis Hollman, 10 Ben Damen (c), 11 Angus Thearle, 12 Matt Nean, 13 Alex Gibbon, 14 James Vidler, 15 Sam Kerry.
Coach: Paul Jeffery.
Byron Bay: 1 Tim Hartmann, 2 Craig Wallace (c), 3 Will Aisake, 4 Ed Randall, 5 Jimmy Wahoo, 6 Cooper Lau, 7 Ben Wood, 8 Courtney Raymond, 9 Tom Brooks, 10 Pete Gillespie, 11 Blake Whittakar, 12 Jascha Saeck, 13 Romey Vassell, 14 Mark Howard, 15 James Boozer.
Coach: Jeff Watt.
Referee: Kevin Twomey.
Casino: 1 Craig Connolly, 2 Ben Collison, 3 Scott Kenny, 4 Callum McLennan, 5 Nathan Davy, 6 Jesse Bowden, 7 Elliott Birmingham, 8 Marcus Cusack, 9 Stephen Murchie (c), 10 Nick Armstrong, 11 Nick Benn, 12 Sililo Stavenow, 13 Jake Roberts, 14 Joseph Murphy, 15 Harrison Cusack.
Coach: Doug Murray.
Southern Cross University: 1 Jacob Creagh, 2 Pat Kelly, 3 Mitchell Bird, 4 Riley Spencer, 5 Brad Sneath, 6 Ben Prozinski, 7 Kirk Taylor-Brown, 8 Matt Murray, 9 Matt Anderson (c), 10 Will Hawkins, 11 Jake Henry, 12 Josh Wilson, 13 Matt McMullen, 14 Pat Wilton, 15 Michael McMullen.
Coach: Harry Witt.
Referee: Peter Campbell.
Lismore: 1 Gavin Tulk, 2 Nathan Carbery, 3 Marcus Ellison, 4 Ben Carroll, 5 Dylan Tulk, 6 Tyler Coveney, 7 Jathan Von Bratt, 8 Angus MacDougall, 9 Jack Everingham, 10 William Fairweather, 11 Sam Johnston, 12 James Grubb, 13 Brenden Williams (c), 14 Jake Lennon, 15 Andrew Sky.
Coach: Ray Taylor.
Casuarina Beach: 1 Bruce Somerville, 2 Dan Heritage (c), 3 Abraham Buatava, 4 Chris Dowling, 5 Elisio Tagidrau, 6 Trent Ryan, 7 Ross Colvin, 8 Mitch Planten, 9 Webb Lillis, 10 Vitori Buatava, 11 Josh Harman, 12 Rian Olivier, 13 Kai George, 14 Michael Coates, 15 Luke Gyory.
Coach: Mick Hall.
Referee: Tom Davidson.
Grafton: 1 Jack Anderson, 2 Zac Mason-Gale, 3 Dan Blackman, 4 Declan Collie, 5 Nick Collie, 6 Billy Whalan, 7 Tom Tanner, 8 Ed McGrath, 9 Dom Bullock, 10 Adam Smidt, 11 Luke Worthing, 12 Jake Harris, 13 Dwayne Duke, 14 Trevor Walters, 15 Kyle Hancock (c).
Coach: Craig Howe.
Lennox Head: 1 Jacob Carter, 2 Angus Langfield, 3 John Clark, 4 Callum Jones, 5 Harry Bungate, 6 Sam Dwyer, 7 Jack Tyndall, 8 Hayden Blair (c), 9 Abe Goldsmith, 10 Billy Goldsmith, 11 Rhys Tatum, 12 Kyle Wilson, 13 Callum S Jones, 14 Toby Creagh, 15 Sam Fitzgerald.
Coach: Paul Fish.
Referee: Matthew Clayton.