Ballina Seahorses dominant in final round victory
A WELL-DRILLED Ballina ran away with a 48-21 win over Lennox Head at Quays Reserve, Ballina, in the final round of Far North Coast rugby union.
The Seahorses will go into the major semi-final against minor premiers Wollongbar-Alstonville on Saturday after finishing second and having only lost two games all season.
Second-rowers Ryan Hamilton and Ryan O'Connor were the standouts while five-eighth Beau Clarke helped winger Joel Noble finish the game with a try-scoring double.
Noble scored his second soon after half-time to extend the lead to 24-14.
Lennox Head centre Brad Lees looked dangerous all game and scored a long-range intercept try to narrow the margin to 24-21.
It was fullback Tom Watson who threw the pass but he soon made amends when he plucked an intercept of his own to score a runaway try.
Ballina showed some of its dominance from there with No8 Brad Brown scoring a try from the back of a push-over scrum.
They piled on more points with flanker Andrew Burke burrowing over before front-rower Isaac Pratten scored in the final minutes.
"There were times where we played some really good football out wide and it was only the last pass that didn't stick,” Ballina coach Chris Hickey said after the game on Saturday.
"I thought defensively we were strong and there were some really good efforts that will help our preparation for the finals.”
It looked like it was going to be one-way traffic early when Ballina took a 17-0 lead with tries to hooker Brett Johnston, Hamilton and Noble.
Centre Blake Miles got the Trojans on the scoreboard late in the half before five-eighth Hugo Marks hit a hole off the back of a scrum to reduce the margin to 17-14 at half-time.
Clarke and Watson worked well together in the second half and kept the opposition guessing with some clever kicks.
"They're only 19 and if they keep developing like they are it's going to be a really good thing for the club,” Hickey said.
"Our second-rowers worked hard for us today and Isaac Pratten had some really strong carries when we needed them.”
Flanker Luke Mounic and front-rower Matt Liddle played well for Lennox Head while centre Zac Beecher was sorely missed in the backline.