Controversial send-off ends Casino's NRRRL grand final dream
A CONTROVERSAL send-off spoiled the Casino Cougars' chances in a 26-10 loss to Murwillumbah in the preliminary final of Ladbrokes Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
Captain-coach Roy Bell was sent off with 20 minutes to go when he collected Mustangs halfback Kade Hill on a last tackle kick at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah on Sunday.
Casino was leading 10-4 at the time when a scuffle broke out from the contact while Murwillumbah played on and scored the try to level things up
Referee Tim Booth immediately gave Bell his marching orders while Hill and Mustangs hooker Sam O'Dea came close to give him a mouthful as he left the field.
"I didn't think it was late or high; it was simultaneous contact but obviously the ref and touch judge saw it differently," Bell said.
"You put yourself in that position when you play aggressive footy and unfortunately for me I came off on the wrong end of it.
"Murwillumbah are a great team and they capitalised on it straight away; full credit to my boys, we've had a really good season."
The Cougars were never going to win with 12 men as the Mustangs ran in tries to fullback Toby McIntosh before a double to centre Adam Walker.
Earlier, it could have been Murwillumbah lock Bailey Crompton sent off when he came into a melee using his knees. He did get sin-binned and his spot in the grand final could be in doubt in what was a spiteful first half.
Front-rower Nic Crompton had just driven an elbow into the throat of Casino fullback Noah King which sparked both teams to run in.
King was outstanding while hooker Hayden Pratt made numerous linebreaks throughout.
Casino second-rower Michael Schipp scored the only try of the first half while a brilliant individual effort from five-eighth Trevor Bolt gave the Cougars a 10-0 lead in the 51st minute.
"We have teenagers that played out there today and the club is in a really good place," Bell said.
"We didn't go out how we wanted but that's footy and we can all reflect on a pretty good season."
Earlier, Casino had a hard-fought 26-24 win over Murwillumbah in reserve grade.
Byron Bay went down 24-4 to Cudgen in the Under-18s and Tweed Coast beat Casino 32-0 in ladies league tag.
GRAND FINALS ON SUNDAY:
Ballina v Murwillumbah
Casino v Tweed Coast
Ballina v Cudgen
Ladies league tag:
Marist Brothers v Tweed Coast