FULL STEAM: Cudgen second-rower Connor Ziebell on the charge against Ballina in NRRRL at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff.
FULL STEAM: Cudgen second-rower Connor Ziebell on the charge against Ballina in NRRRL at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff. Mitchell Craig

Hornets pack plenty of sting in physical NRRRL win

PATIENCE and persistence paid off for Cudgen in an 18-8 win over defending premiers Ballina in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final rematch at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff today.

It was a physical encounter and neither side gave the other many options in the first half with Cudgen going into the break with a narrow 6-0 lead.

Some slick ball movement led to a try to new recruit Anthony Cox before centre Ben O'Gorman gave them extra breathing room with a penalty goal extending the lead to 14-0 in the second half.

It was all over once the backs found space out wide and it hit 18-0 when winger Connah Mills finished a brilliant backline move out wide.

"We had a really high completion rate in that second half and we managed to turn that into points,” Cudgen coach Pat Rosser said.

"Our fitness is pretty good but it was never going to be easy against Ballina and I'm really happy with the effort.”

It took Ballina 75 minutes to get on the scoreboard when second-rower Justin Shillingsworth scored out wide.

The Seagulls saved their best for the last five minutes with centre Michael Dwane backing it up with a try out wide in the final minute.

Five-eighth Alex Grant and hooker Andrew Battese tried hard for Ballina and there was a lot to like about the way new Cudgen second-rower Jason Chan played.

The Hornets also have brothers Sam and Jacob Grant in the halves while second-rower Connor Ziebell has joined his older brother Caleb in the side.

Front-rower Kobi Mills is also due back this week and will join his younger brother Connah in the side.

"It's pretty exciting to have three sets of brothers playing together this year,” Rosser said.

"We've lost a few key forwards and have new halves but the boys are working hard on their combinations.”

See more on Tuesday with comments and reaction from Ballina coach Mick Foster.

In other games, Casino won its first home game of the season 34-26 against Byron Bay at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Kyogle kick-started its season with a 38-20 win over Lower Clarence at New Park, Kyogle.

Mullumbimby recorded back-to-back wins in a high-scoring 38-34 win over Northern United at Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby.

Tweed Coast Raiders beat the Murwillumbah Mustangs 26-18.

And Marist Brothers beat Evans Head 48-14 at Crozier Field, Lismore.