Ballina player knocked out in on-field punch-up
BALLINA fullback Brett Kelly probably won't remember being sent off in the 20-all draw against competition leaders Murwillumbah in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League at Ballina yesterday.
The 63kg Kelly was playing well until he ended up in a fight with Murwillumbah lock Ali Brown who weighs in well over 100kg.
Kelly was knocked out cold when Brown landed a punch on him. Both players were sent off for their roles in the fracas.
Play was stopped for several minutes with Ballina ahead 20-12 at the time.
Tempers threatened to boil over as Kelly lay there motionless as a Murwillumbah try was finally disallowed because Seagulls players were deemed to be taken out on the way to the tryline.
Kelly finally made his way to the sideline with blood pouring from his mouth as both teams finished the game with 12 men.
A penalty goal in the 79th minute from former NRL winger Luke Covell got the competition leaders out of jail after centre Sio Alefosio scored next to the posts for a converted try minutes early.
"He (Kelly) threw a couple of punches and Ali didn't miss him," Murwillumbah player-coach Damian Quinn said. "I saw the Ballina guy throw about three and Ali landed the one.
"I really thought Luke scored a fair try and having that disallowed is a pretty big call."
Murwillumbah took an early 12-0 lead before Ballina winger Anthony Colman scored four minutes before half-time to narrow the margin to 12-4.
Ballina came out all guns blazing in the second half and scored 16 unanswered points with tries to Brett Kelly, Clarence Kelly and Brian Kelly.
The draw is enough for Murwillumbah to claim the minor premiership while Ballina will finish either second or third depending on results this weekend.
Captain Greg Ryan was the best again for the Seagulls along with second-rower Simon Perkins and Brian Kelly.
"The boys are actually a bit disappointed because they realise there are a few opportunities that we missed," Ballina coach Greg Barnes said.
"You can't give these guys a penalty inside your 40 because Covell will kick them from anywhere."
Barnes is unsure what will happen at the judiciary following the send off of Brown and Kelly.
"Two of our boys got taken out and they took exception to it," he said.
"I think it was just boys letting off a bit of steam, I couldn't see what happened in there."
Ballina 20 (A Colman, Brett Kelly, C Kelly, Brian Kelly tries; A Battese 2 goals) drew Murwillumbah 20 ( A Lagilofia, J Broadhurst, S Alefosio; L Covell 4 goals)