Top five highs and lows in NRRRL grand finals
SPORTS editor Mitchell Craig ranks the best Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand finals of the past decade (2010-2019) in order.
1. 2013, Ballina Seagulls d Murwillumbah Mustangs 30-24 at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina
A capacity crowd crammed in to see a thriller when Ballina overcame the defending premiers Murwillumbah to break a 20-year premiership drought.
The fairytale looked in danger early when they were down 12-0 in the first half before teenage winger Brian Kelly sealed the win with a try in the 71st minute.
The Seagulls had one of their strongest teams that season, with props Dylan Montgomery and Greg Ryan leading the way.
2. 2012, Murwillumbah Mustangs d Grafton Ghosts 27-26 at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah
A penalty goal in the 79th minute to former NRL winger and hometown product Luke Covell gave the Mustangs the premiership in a nailbiter.
Murwillumbah had a wellbalanced team in 2012 and sent veteran prop Lionel Foster out as a winner.
Its games against Grafton were always gripping contests between 2011-2013 and the Mustangs were well coached by Troy Mclean, while the Ghosts had Col Speed at the helm.
3. 2017, Ballina Seagulls d Cudgen Hornets 32-24 at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina
Ballina had to dig deep for this one despite Cudgen playing most of the game with 12 men after lock Anthony Flores was sent off for a spear tackle in the opening minutes.
The Hornets jumped out to 20-8 lead at one point, off the back of a determined effort from front-rower Caleb Ziebell who was the best on ground in a losing effort.
Ballina turned to its big guns in five-eighth Alex
Grant, fullback Oliver Regan and second-rower Justin Shillingsworth, who steered them home in the second half.
4. 2016, Murwillumbah Mustangs d Cudgen Hornets 16-14 at Ned Byrne Field, Kingscliff
Plenty of emotion in the build-up, with the win coming just one week after Mustangs second-rower Grant Cook died after he collapsed on the sideline in the preliminary final.
Cudgen were the team to beat all season as the Mustangs defended their way to a memorable victory.
Murwillumbah fullback Toby Mcintosh played the whole game with a busted knee after he was nailed by an opposition front-rower in the opening kick-off.
5. 2018, Tweed Coast Raiders d Ballina Seagulls 24-4 at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina
First premiership for Tweed Coast and would have rated higher if it wasn’t such a one-sided contest.
The Raiders blew perennial favourites Ballina off the park and it never quite clicked on the day for the Seagulls.
Former NRL front-rower Brent Kite coached Tweed Coast, who boasted a big forward pack, while the likes of hooker Dan Willoughby and halfback Tahne Robinson steered the ship.