Old rivals in decider

By JIM CHALLENOR

BALLINA and Coraki will meet in the Far North Coast men's A-grade hockey grand final today for the fourth consecutive year.

The game on the synthetic surface at Hepburn Park, Goonellabah, will start at 4.30pm.

As the defending champions and the JH Williams Premier League winners this year, Ballina will again go in as hot favourites.

It is hard to remember the last time Coraki got the better of the seasiders.

But Coraki have continued to arrest their mid-season slide to record some stirring performances.

While they lack some of the killer instinct of yesteryear, their last-gasp win over East Lismore showed the desire is still there.

Tony Clarke's off-field direction has focused Coraki's performances.

Mitchell Dunstan, Ben Moss, David, Trent and Simon Brown along with Scott Gallagher and Jason Powell give them a formidable platform.

Nonetheless, Ballina on paper stack up as a more mobile and productive team.

Jake Baldry, Scott Bovis, Scott Hamilton and Grant Smith along with Luke McCowan, Neil Chaseling, Wayne Porter and Peter Taylor open up many more options.

Passion and sentiment can never be ruled out of any contest and on the day anything can happen.

But with Ballina's recent clinical demolition of a marauding Waratah Bobcats team still so fresh in the memory, it is difficult to see Coraki matching the seasiders.

At 1.30pm the reserve grade grand final is a rematch of the major semi-final between Northern Star and Coraki.

And if the major semi is any guide, the game should be a cracker.

Several Star players have had A-grade experience this season and have the potential to continue their winning run.

But Coraki will not concede the title ? Star will have to win it the hard way.

In B-grade at 12 noon, East Lismore meet Northern Star.

The only match Star has dropped all year was the major semi to Easts.

Both sides have a mixture of youth and experience, although Star have a clear advantage in experience.

In C-grade, North Lismore White played a resurgent Coraki last night.



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