Tod Cameron, for the Grafton Rhinos, facing Ballina Seagulls number 10 Damian Sironen at McKittrick Park.
Tod Cameron, for the Grafton Rhinos, facing Ballina Seagulls number 10 Damian Sironen at McKittrick Park.

Rhinos flat in plain ugly loss

BALLINA Seagulls spoilt the Rhinos’ Mother’s Day party at McKittrick Park yesterday running out winners 38-16.

It was a huge wake-up call for the men dressed in pink whose attack was flat and predictable.

At 4-all after five minutes the Rhinos had their bubble burst as the Seagulls ran in four more unanswered tries to take a commanding 28-4 lead at the break.

The Rhinos looked unorganised, unsuccessful and just plain ugly as the Ballina forwards made in-roads into the paper-thin defence.

Rhinos captain/coach Xavier Sullivan was a dejected figure after the match and pin-pointed his sides lack of urgency in the first half as a major factor.

“In the first half we expected things to happen and they didn’t,” Sullivan said after the match.

“Ballina are too good a side to let us do what we want. They had a basic game plan and did the little things right and they exposed our weaknesses.”

Although not happy with his sides performance and lack of discipline, Sullivan said their were good signs in the second half.

“If we played like we did in the second half all game we could have beaten them,” he said.

“The first 40 minutes killed us...we shouldn’t have got ourselves in that situation where we were chasing 20 points at the break.”

Ballina’s ability to get off their line quickly in defence caused problems for the home team who battled to make ground or get their kicks away.

Poor passing from the dummy-half combined with lack of depth in attack saw the Rhinos struggle to gain good field position and exert pressure on the Seagulls line-defence.

Ballina looked like racking up a cricket score and with a player sent to the sin bin the Rhinos stepped up a gear and at one stage looked like making a remarkable comeback.

When Steve Kirby sold a dummy and scored under the posts the Rhinos suddenly had a spring in their step. And when overseas import and crowd-pleaser Joe Ravueta scored a brilliant individual try the Rhinos’ fans suddenly became animated.

Receiving the ball off a scrum the Fijian flyer sprinted 90 metres leaving seven defenders grasping at thin air in what could only be described as one of the best tries ever witnessed at McKittrick Park.

The mesmerising effort by Ravueta sparked the Rhinos into action but with tired legs their appeared to be nothing left in the tank. Ballina took advantage of some feeble Rhinos defence and ran away with the game late in the half.

There were disappointing scenes behind the Rhinos try line late in the game with several players sitting on their haunches trying to suck some much-needed air into their lungs.

Sullivan is aware his side needs to work on fitness if they are to be a force this season and it doesn’t get any better next week when they come up against arch-rivals the Grafton Ghosts.

“There are a lot of things to work on this week. Our structure was good for the first 15 minutes against Ballina but we couldn’t maintain it,” he said.

First Grade

Ballina 38 (Tries: C Dooley, A Crawford, J Freeman, B Crawford, A Battese S McLennan. A Batesse 7 goals).

Rhinos 16 (Tries: J Ravueta 2, S Kirby 1. J Gordan 1 goal, R Burley 1 goal)

Reserve Grade

Rhinos 34 ( Tries: K Mercy 3, L Worthing, L Walker, S Kilduff. L Worthing 4 goals, R Farr 1 goal)

Ballina 12 (Tries: R Miles, P Taggert, R Miles 2 goals)

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