Ballina reigns in rain
By DARREN MONCRIEFF
THERE is one great leveller in football and it has nothing to do with steamrollers. It's when the weather turns wild and woolly, which it did unrelentingly so on Saturday.
While the Summerland Australian Football League (SAFL) leaders Ballina Bombers are a marginally better side than Lismore Swans this season, the driving rains and bitterly cold winds that crossed most of the Northern Rivers saw the Swans match the Bombers for most of Saturday's game at Fripp Oval, Ballina.
But the class of Ballina shone through and they were able to guts-out a tough 27-point win, 12.13 (85) to 8.10 (58), and in the process sow seeds of doubt across the league's other teams as to who can match them.
Ballina's efficient use of the ball, their well-drilled execution of gameplan and a settled line-up gave them the edge.
But the elements on Saturday enabled Lismore to close down that advantage, at least to the midway point of the last quarter. It was here that the Swans hit the front for the first time when milestone man Roly Barrett, playing his 150th game, slotted through the Swans' eighth goal to have the visitors up by one point.
But that goal seemed to have signalled a Ballina revival. It started with a clever Travis Clarke snap 15 metres out to wrest back the lead, and again when Pat Bulzomi who, after roving the ball front-and-square from a pack, kicked from right in front.
Try as they might, Lismore couldn't come up with a reply. Bombers' playing-coach Scott Brooks sealed the deal when he let fly with a torpedo punt from outside 50 for Ballina's 12th and final goal.
Up until that final-quarter blowout, and Lismore's fade-out, both sides enjoyed brief periods of momentum without either truly gaining the ascendency. The Bombers wasted priceless opportunities, kicking a wasteful 1.6 in the third, the solitary major coming from a Brooks long-bomb. The Swans were more efficient with 4.2 for the quarter, the highlight goal coming from a Doug Bone left-foot snap that got the Swans going.
Sam Kennedy was again superb for the Bombers, the workrate of Clarke saw him named as his side's best and skipper Tim Price, whose duel with Paul Howard was a highlight, showed why he is regarded as one of the game's better players.
Results Round 9: Ballina Bombers 12.13 (85) d Lismore Swans 8.0 (58). No results available from the Nimbin Demons/Casino Lions game.
FAR NORTH COAST JUNIOR AFL Results from Round 9: Under-10s: Ballina Bombers 5.1 (31) d Plateau Power 3.4 (22), Tweed Coast Tigers 3.3 (21) d Lismore Swans 2.3 (15), Brunswick Bulldogs 2.4 (16) d 1.1 (7). Under-12s: Ballina Bombers 11.11 (77) d Plateau Power 0.0 (0), Lismore Swans 13.13 (91) d Maclean Eagles 7.8 (50), Brunswick Bulldogs 2.4 (16) d Byron Magpies 2.9 (21). Under-14s: Plateau Power 15.13 (103) d Ballina Bombers 6.4 (40), Tweed Coast Tigers 10.5 (65) d Lismore Swans 9.4 (58), Byron Magpies 12.15 (87) d Brunswick Bulldogs 1.4 (10).
THERE are no club matches on Sunday, July 1. The Mike Kenny Memorial Shield representative matches will be played at Fripp Oval, Ballina, between Far North Coast Junior AFL and North Coast-AFL (Coffs Harbour). The first game, the under-12s, starts at 10am sharp, followed by the under-14s at 11.45am and the under-14s and under-16s at 1.30pm.