Raiders conquer Ballina in historic NRRRL grand final win
THE Tweed Coast Raiders, against the odds but with an incredible travelling contingent of fans, have won their first NRRRL grand final, defeating league heavyweights Ballina Seagulls 24-4 in Ballina today.
Raiders fans, players and first-year head-coach Brent Kite are now celebrating an historic premiership victory that few thought would eventuate as it did, with the Raiders comprehensively outplaying Ballina, a team with a dynastic dominance over the league, on their home ground.
The Raiders lead 6-4 at half-time before blitzing Ballina in the second half, holding the reigning premiers to their lowest score of the season.
They're already partying in Cabarita. with the premiership coming home just three years after the Les Burger Field-based club re-established itself in the NRRRL as the Raiders.
Ballina were the only team to beat the Raiders all year, defeating them during the regular season and also in the first round of finals. But any such psychological advantage seemingly mattered for little.
The Raiders never once seemed rattled. Their relative inexperience to Ballina, the league's gold-standard winning four out of the last five NRRRL premierships, was imperceptible.
Once the game had found its pace the Cabarita club never once seemed put off by the occasion.
There were no silly mistakes, no critical lapses of judgment, yet the team never went into its shell or played conservatively with the lead, daring to play assertive football when needed and side-stepping any nervous moments when Ballina went into another gear to chase victory.
GRAND FINAL UPDATES
UPDATE: 4.28pm: RAIDERS WIN 24-4. Fans stampede the field. It almost looks like there are more than a thousand Raiders fans on the field. The Raiders have won their first NRRRL premiership.
UPDATE: 4:22pm: Raiders fans are already on the field and the security is holding them back. The game continues.
UPDATE: 4:17pm: RAIDERS SCORE: Connor Hickey scores and it's all over. The Raiders will win the premiership. Fans are running onto the field and the final siren hasn't gone. Emotions are bubbling over for Raiders fans. But the team remains composed. 10 minutes to go. Raiders 24, Seagulls 4.
UPDATE: 3:57pm: RAIDERS SCORE: Dan Willoughby has added to the Seagulls' pain with a try as Robinson duly converts the kick. 25 minutes to go. Raiders 18, Seagulls 4.
UPDATE: 3:53pm RAIDERS SCORE: Tahne Robisnon converts a penalty after Ballina fail to play the ball. Raiders 12, Seagulls 4.
UPDATE: 3:49pm: RAIDERS SCORE: Tweed Coast have mirrored their hot start in the first half with an immediate try in the second to Daryl Brooks after a miraculous overhead pass out wide. Raiders 10, Seagulls 4.
UPDATE: 3:30pm: HALF-TIME - The Raiders lead Ballina 6-4 at half time, with some good fortune going their way after a line-ball forward-pass decision denied Ballina the lead in the NRRRL grand final.
UPDATE 2:55pm: RAIDERS SCORE: The Raiders have drawn first blood in the grand final, with Scott McLennan scoring a try in the opening stages.
UPDATE 2.47pm: THE Raiders players are now on the field after a huge ovation from travelling fans.
UPDATE 2.40pm: TEAMS have remained unchanged from the program as the Tweed Coast Raiders aim to win their first NRRRL grand final after re-entering the league this afternoon.
IT'S a beautiful day in Ballina as three Tweed teams aim for NRRRL premierships with Cudgen, Murwillumbah and the Tweed Coast Raiders set to play in grand finals today at Kingsford Smith Park in Ballina.
The Raiders are chasing history in First Grade, with the chance to win the club's first premiership since re-entry to the NRRRL three years ago.
You can follow all the action below.
Mustangs fall short in Reserve Grade
MARIST Brothers are Reserve Grade champions after defeating the Murwillumbah Mustangs 32-4 this afternoon at Kingsford Smith Park.
Raiders' 'Hill Billies' invade Ballina
"FILL the hill” is the cry as a green coalition has built into a full-blown army in Ballina, with Tweed Coast Raiders fans descending on Kingsford Smith Park today during NRRRL grand final day.
This green menace, otherwise known as the 'Hill Billies', are numbering in the hundreds having taken pride of place on a plateau at the northern end of the ground.
Cudgen U18's outclassed by Seagulls
THE Cudgen Hornets struggled to get their game up and running as the Ballina Seagulls outclassed, outworked and outscored the Hornets 30-4 in this morning's NRRRL Under 18 grand final at Kingsford Smith Park.
Remarkably, the premiership is the Ballina Under 18's third straight.
Brock Styles was the lone try-scorer for the Hornets, with Matt Buttenshaw, Mason Hilyard, Jsmes Torrens, Tilpou Loloher and Lauri Kuyann Roberts crossing for the Seagulls.
The Hornets' defence was resolute across the match, with many opportunities created for counter-attack.
But too many of these opportunities went unconverted for the Hornets to ever threaten Ballina, whose premiership three-peat underpins a golden era for both junior and senior football at the club.
Marist are tag champs
MARIST Brothers have taken out the 2018 Ladies League Tag premiership after defeating Byron Bay this morning at Kingsford Smith Park in Ballina.
Byron Bay reached the grand final on the back of an 8-4 victory over Tweed Coast in the preliminary final, but were ultimately no match for Marist Brothers, the minor premiers, who went through the season with 15 wins and only two losses to finish top of the ladder.
The Raiders finished fourth on the ladder to reach the finals series, winning their first final against Murwillumbah, who finished fifth.
The Raiders then overcame Ballina 14-0 in week two of finals to set up the preliminary finals match-up with Byron Bay.
The Raiders and Mustangs are set to be joined by their sisters over at Cudgen in NRRRL Ladies League Tag competition in 2019, with the Hornets in the process of establishing a team for the club's inaugural season.
Today at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina
Ladies League Tag: Byron Bay v Marist Brothers 9.45am
Under-18s: Ballina v Cudgen 11.15am
Reserve Grade: Marist Brothers v Murwillumbah at 12.45pm
First Grade: Ballina v Tweed Coast at 2.45pm