Ballina a cut above
By JIM CHALLENOR
A TOTALLY relentless Ballina easily took out the J H Williams Premier League men's hockey final 6-1 at Murwillumbah on Saturday.
They produced an awesome display of concentrated pressure and the only time Ballina didn't have the lead was following the opening goal from the Waratahs in the ninth minute.
The Waratah Bobcats have had an impressive season, rebuilding the team after losing a number of stalwarts.
For a team to monster a season so early into the rebuilding phase shows the maturity of the players involved.
Waratahs' Matt Butterini, Tim Willis, Mick and Dwayne Newell, Troy O'Keefe and Mitchell Paron all gave sterling performances in the final.
Another time, another place, it is possible to see them closer to the prize.
Absorbing the Bobcats' initial bombardment only steeled the Seasiders to their task.
Four goals, 14 mins
Scott Hamilton (18th, 26th minutes), Wayne Porter (20th) and Grant Smith (32th) all scored in a 14-minute blitzkrieg that opened the game up quicker than a ripe melon dropped on concrete.
Scott Bovis played a commanding midfield role that opened up so many holes and opportunities.
He found tremendous midfield support from the likes of Smith, Hamilton, Porter and Peter Taylor to continually probe for chances.
And when they found even a flicker of an opening they seized the opportunity.
Jake Baldry (40th minute) and Daniel Riley's (69th) goals came from making the most of the few second-half opportunities.
Only good second-half defensive work by Paron and O'Keefe limited Ballina's scoreboard chances.
And while Ballina didn't lose their hunger for goals, the wear and tear of injuries to key players took some of the edge off their attack.
For instance, Hamilton was slowed down after a bump to his knee and Bovis was taken to hospital to have stitches inserted into a cut cheek received when a ball squeezed up with eight minutes left on the clock.
The Bobcats used every opportunity to return fire to no avail, with the defence of Neil Chaseling, Luke McCowan, Geoff Davis and the Porter brothers way too good.
Ballina's team in the final: Josh Garrett (goalkeeper), Wayne Porter, Luke McCowan, Grant Smith, Neil Chaseling (captain), Scott Hamilton, Geoff Davis, Jake Baldry, Sam Davis, Scott Bovis, Daniel Riley, Tony Porter, Peter Taylor and Tony Hancock.
n LABRADOR claimed the 2005 J H Williams Premier Hockey League women's final in a close but dour struggle over Vipers.
After leading 1-0 at half-time, Labrador went on to claim the title 3-0.
Labrador's Kylie McEniery was the standout player.