THE Coolangatta Tweed Barbarians may not have won the game against competition leaders Ballina at Goodwin park, Coolangatta on Saturday, but they won plenty of respect with a gusty performance in round nine of the Far North Coast rugby union competition.
Playing in front of a decent crowd which included injured player Phil Heath looking on from a wheelchair, the makeshift Tweed side showed they are far more capable than their place near the bottom of the ladder suggests, going down 19-15.
The Baa Baas dominated large periods of the match, showing renewed enthusiasm and created numerous opportunities only to see them go begging, much to the relief of the Ballina side.
The visitors showed good composure to frustrate Tweed and hang on for a hard fought victory.
Tweed coach Mark Iannelli said he couldn't have been prouder of his side.
“When you think we had a lot of second graders who stepped-up out their today and we didn't have some key players, I though our performance was awesome,” Iannelli said.
Ballina opened the scoring through centre Trent Gasnier after 15 minutes with five eighth Kane Scott converting to give them a 7-0 lead.
However Tweed struck back through forward Anaru Smith scoring a try and second rower Vincent Latailakepa converting to level the scores.
With about 10 minutes until half time, Ballina fullback Adam Fisher scored to restore the lead to 12-7 which remains to score at the break.
A penalty early in the second half to Tweed saw the scores close to 12-10 and it was not until the 54th minute when Ballina's Chris Long crossed with Scott converting that the visitors had a matching winning lead 19-10.
In Second grade, Tweed almost scored the upset of the season, going down to the previously unbeaten Ballina 32-27 in the dying seconds of the game.
In other FNC games Wollongbar Alstonville downed premiers Lennox Head 21-17, Grafton chalked up their first win with a 15-14 victory over Casino and South Cross Uni surprised Lismore 17-7.