Ballina back to best in Premier hockey
By JIM CHALLENOR
BALLINA were back to their belting best, slaying Northern Star 7-2 after leading 4-1 at half-time in JH Willimas Premier League men's hockey on Saturday.
But rather than win pretty, the seasiders had to hold it together in a scrappy affair.
Ballina are becoming increasingly dependant on an interesting mixture of several veterans and a number of younger players as young as 15.
Missing playmaker Scott Bovis ? out surfing around south-east Asia ? the job was made a little harder.
However, as always seems to be the case, champion teams find that extra bit when required.
Mid-field general Grant Smith led the way, assisted by Luke McCowan, firebrand forward Jake Baldry, youngster Daniel Riley, goalkeeper Josh Garrett, Tony and Wayne Porter.
Star have struggled to rebuild after their off-season losses along with players being unavailable each week.
Missing Dave Kelly and Steve Law at the weekend only added insult to injury.
Thomas Vantaggiatto, Chris and Ryan McGuiness and Brad Hassett stood out in a losing team.
When the smoke cleared Baldry had bagged three goals, Smith two and McCowan one, along with young Riley, who scored his first A-grade goal.
For Star, Vantaggiatto and Chris McGuiness found the net.
East Lismore rode their luck to beat Alstonville 4-2 after it was 2-all at half-time.
Easts escaped the noose thanks to freakish goalkeeper Nathan Hughes.
In a game where a draw would have been a better reflection of play, Alstonville dominated possession but lack of experience and a superior defence denied them their first win.
Missing Graham Bielefeld, Alstonville maintained some solid defence through goalkeeper Peter Neilson, Adrian Crispo and Luke Emerson, while Bill Beohm, Daniel Lidbetter and Dean Roberts did well in midfield.
Goalscorers for the redsoilers were Crispo and Joe Beohm.
For Easts, stung by their previous round loss to Mullumbimby Taipans last week, Hughes, Raymond and Matt Rodda and Dave Willis gave solid performances.
Simon Mackney, Chris Clark, Jeff Davis and Daniel Hughes scored the goals.
At Murwillumbah, the Taipans continued to wreak havoc, their lastest victims being Coraki, which fell 1-0 to the enthusiastic and bewilderingly entertaining side. Dean Gadowski scored the only goal.
Coraki coach Dave Brown was lost for words, especially considering his team's domination in attack for long periods.
He singled out Josh Molyneux, Ben Moss, Trent Brown and Mitchell Dunstan as Coraki's best.
Brown said if the team was to challenge for the major prize, it would have to convert more of their chances.
Kingscliff boounced back to overcome Burleigh 4-2, while Mudgeeraba held out the rejuvenated Redbacks 2-1.
On the Gold Coast yesterday, Waratahs beat Labrador 4-1 and All Stars drew with Capri 3-all.