Bulls look set for late charge
A FIJIAN influence at Casino has helped lead the Bulls on a late charge towards semi-finals in Far North Coast rugby union.
Flanker Josef Lalabalavu has returned to the club in recent weeks and has been joined by fullback Wilson Lovokuro and No 8 Ratu Vio Batibasaga.
The Bulls will need to be at their best when they take on the undefeated Wollongbar-Alstonville at Lyle Park, Wollongbar tomorrow.
"We knew they would make a difference and it's probably been a bit more than we even expected,” Casino coach Doug Murray said.
"Josef has been enormous and he could end up winning best and fairest off the back of only playing half a season.
"He played here in 2017 and he's been even better this time, he's finished with the referee's three points in at least two of our games.
"But we haven't got our heads in the clouds and we're realistic about the challenge Wollongbar brings.”
Casino is currently seventh on the ladder and equal on competition points with Grafton.
They are coming off wins against third-placed Casuarina and Byron Bay with the latter their first win at home this season.
"We've always been a hard-working side and it's a relief to get the monkey off our back with a win at home,” Murray said.
"Our defence has improved over the past two months and we're in a good spot to keep improving.
"We're in good spirits after last weekend and I haven't seen a performance like that in a long time.
"We had four yellow cards and only 12 players on the field at one point but we kept going.
"Ballina are definitely beatable and we'll look forward to that one (next weekend).
"We will probably need another team to do us a favour with where we finish and how far we go from here.”
Kick-off is 3.15pm.
In other games, Ballina takes on Lennox Head at Quays Reserve, Ballina
Lismore plays Grafton at Lismore Rugby Park and Casuarina host Southern Cross University on the Tweed Coast.
The game between Byron Bay and Bangalow at the Byron Recreation Ground has been washed out.
Byron Bay: 1. Jordan Elliott, 2. Dan Morgan, 3. Brad Hill, 4. Ed Randall, 5. Will Aisake(c), 6. James Atkins, 7. Ben Wood, 8. Courtney Raymond, 9. Tom Brooks, 10. Pete Gillespie, 11. Erik Rademacher , 12. Owain Roberts, 13. Romey Vassell, 14. Kristians Avotins, 15. Blake Whittakar
Coach: Jeff Watt
Bangalow: 1. Sean Petrou, 2. Nick Jones(c), 3. Otty Fifita, 4. Rob Wrightman, 5. Jock Craigie, 6. Jack Bensley, 7. John Turagabeci, 8. David Johnson, 9. Daniel Hill, 10. Ben Farrow, 11. Jed Erickson, 12. Kye Spence, 13. Aniri Whewell, 14. Sam Campbell, 15. Will Warren
Coach: Tim Cohen
Referee: Matt Clayton
Casuarina Beach: 1. Bruce Somerville, 2. Daniel Heritage, 3. Robert Beacroft, 4. Trent Ryan, 5. Elisio Tagidrau, 6. Matt Worland, 7. Ross Colvin, 8. Mitch Planten, 9. Webb Lillis, 10. Vitori Buatava, 11. Josh Harman, 12. Rian Olivier, 13. Richard White, 14. Hiroshi Takeyama , 15. Kai George
Coach: Mick Hall
Referee: Graham Cook
Southern Cross University: 1. Mitch Bird, 2. Isaac Penfold, 3. Pat Kelly, 4. Ben Prozinski, 5. Riley Spencer, 6. Hamish Millane, 7. Kirk Taylor-Brown, 8. Matt Murray, 9. Matt Anderson, 10. Will Hawkins, 11. Rhys Harrison, 12. Josh Wilson, 13. Matt McMullen, 14. Jake Henry, 15. Michael McMullen
Coach: Harry Witt
Referee: Will Palmer
Wollongbar Alstonville: 1. Benji Tiatia, 2. Bill Johnston, 3. Brandon Whitney, 4. Matt Scott, 5. Josh Galbraith, 6. Austin Markwort, 7. Justyn Keir, 8. Lloyd Morgan, 9. Louis Hollman, 10. Ben Damen (c), 11. Josh Damen, 12. Nat Regueira, 13. Daniel Damen, 14. James Vidler, 15. Sam Kerry
Coach: Paul Jeffery
Casino: 1. Blake Birmingham, 2. Ben Collison, 3. Scott Kenny, 4. Callum McLennan, 5. Marcus Cusack, 6. Josef Lalabalavu, 7. Elliott Birmingham, , 8. Ratu Vio Batibasaga, 9. Stephen Murchie (c), 10. Nick Armstrong, 11. Korey Bennett, 12. Sililo Stavenow, 13. Harrison Cusack, 14. Joseph Murphy, 15. Wilson Lovokuro
Coach: Doug Murray
Referee: Peter Campbell
Lismore: 1. Marcus Ellison, 2. Cameron Bryant, 3. Greg Martin, 4. Ben Carroll, 5. Gavin Tulk, 6. Tyler Coveney, 7. Brenden Williams (c), 8. James Grubb, 9. Jack Everingham, 10. William Fairweather, 11. Sam Nilon, 12. James Whitby, 13. Jake Lennon, 14, Perry Daly, 15. Andrew Sky
Coach: Ray Taylor
Grafton: 1. Jack Anderson, 2. Zac Mason-Gale (c), 3. Martin Boyd, 4. Nick Collie, 5. Rhys Nelson, 6. Brennan Lavery, 7. Tom Tanner, 8. Billy Whalan, 9. Darcy Crispin, 10. Dwayne Duke, 11. Cody Reti, 12. Luke Worthing, 13. Jayden Reti, 14. James Fairweather, 15. Keaton Ingram
Coach: Craig Howe
Referee: James McElligott
Ballina: 1. Isaac Pratten, 2. Hayden Warneke, 3. Callum Turner, 4. Jakob O'Connor, 5. Kye Cribb, 6. Luke Kliese, 7. Brad Brown (c), 8. Stan Lolohea, 9. Nick Watson, 10. Beau Clarke, 11. Rhyen Kennedy, 12. Grant Knight, 13. Tupou Lolohea, 14. Joe Jansson, 15. Tom Watson
Coach: Chris Hickey
Lennox Head: 1. Angus Langfield, 2. Brad McGoulrick, 3. John Clark, 4. Kurt Orlanno, 5. Jacob Carter, 6. Harry Bungate, 7. Hayden Blair (c), 8. Callum Jones, 9. Abe Goldsmith, 10. Billy Goldsmith, 11. Martin McNamara, 12. Matthew Bermingham, 13. Callum S Jones, 14. Rhys Tatum, 15. Sam Fitzgerald
Coach: Rob Fish
Referee: Graham Cook