Ballina set for big month ahead of semi-finals

HANDY MAN: Hooker Michael Dwane is a standout at the Ballina Seagulls in NRRRL. Photo Paul Davies.

HANDY MAN: Hooker Michael Dwane is a standout at the Ballina Seagulls in NRRRL. Photo Paul Davies.

BALLINA is gearing up for a tough month of competition against the top three teams in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.

They travel to take on Murwillumbah this weekend before an away clash against the undefeated competition leaders Cudgen.

The Seagulls return home the following week to host Marist Brothers, who is the only team who has been able to defeat them this year.

Ballina will be there at the business end of the season and have played finals every year since 2012.

They have won six premierships in that time in a team build around local juniors.

Halfback Jess Perry, hooker Michael Dwane and second-rower Anthony Colman have held the nucleus of the team together since winning the premiership in 2013.

Club junior Oliver Regan has been a standout at fullback in recent years while captain-coach Luke Douglas has steered the team around since last season.

"I've always been impressed with how the club has built around its local juniors," Douglas said.

"The boys are reliable and you know what you're going to get from them.

"Anthony and Jess came up with a couple of big plays and helped us get the win late (against Byron Bay)."

The Seagulls came from behind to defeat Byron Bay 24-17 last weekend.

Winger Luke Simpson scored a double and has now crossed the try-line 18 times this season.

They were also without second-rower Matt Koellner who was called up into the Tweed Seagulls side to make his Queensland Cup debut.

"We've been down a few troops lately but I've been able to give guys like Khyan Weir more minutes which is pleasing," Douglas said.

"Murwillumbah have an Old Boys day up there this weekend so they'll be fired up."

Ladder: Cudgen 24, Ballina 22, Murwillumbah 20, Marist Brothers 20, Evans Head 14, Tweed Coast 14, Byron Bay 12, Northern United 10, Bilambil 8, Casino 8, Lower Clarence 6, Kyogle 4, Mullumbimby 4