Seagulls batter Rams
By ADRIAN MILLER
WHEN Ballina's Eddie Killingbeck knocked the ball on from kick-off against Marist Brothers in the side's Retravision Northern League clash at Kingsford Smith Park yesterday, he set a precedent both teams appeared eager to follow.
Ballina ran out eventual winners of the derby clash 20-12, but the match was a veritable error-athon.
Killingbeck's knock-on from the first play of the game was followed shortly after by a Ballina penalty, then a Ballina knock-on, then a Marist Brothers error, then a penalty, then another Ballina knock-on ? all in the space of a few minutes.
In fact there were so many mistakes it took the Seagulls eight minutes before they completed a set of six.
Killingbeck was in the thick of the action for the Seagulls, involved in just about every important first half moment.
After the early knock-on he redeemed himself by scoring the Seagulls first try before his missed tackle led to the Rams first score.
By the time Brothers registered their first points, with a try to Brett Spears on the last play of the first half, the Seagulls had already posted 14 points through tries to Killingbeck and Dylan Montgomery and the boot of Andrew Battese.
While the Rams had the bulk of the first half possession, Ballina's defence was the standout.
The Rams threw everything they could at the Seagulls but their scrambling defence and Brothers error rate kept the 'Gulls flying.
Ballina started the second half the better of the two sides and looked the most likely to score.
Five-eighth Brenton Cochrane and halfback Willy Hammond were dangerous every time they touched the ball, but it was Brothers who posted the first try of the half to fullback Mark Sivewright, who capitalised on some brilliant lead up work by Spears.
Spears converted the try and with 33 minutes to play, Ballina only led by two points.
Brothers began to make metres up the middle and down the right hand side of Ballina's defence and with constant mistakes and penalties they built momentum and looked likely to score next.
But after they dropped the ball on attack, then gave away a penalty before another knock-on, Hammond scored for Ballina, and with another Battese conversion the score was 20-12.
With 20 minutes remaining there was plenty of time for Brothers, but they couldn't convert their half-chances and the 'Gulls were never headed.
Ballina coach Chris Binge said he was pleased with the way his side toughed out the result.
"In the first half we did a lot of defending because of our mistakes," he said.
"Full credit to the boys because they stuck to their guns and when we did get down to the right end of the park we came away with points and that's what you've got to do.
"We didn't want to get into a battle with these guys were you go try for try because these guys can put you away if you do that.
"We've worked hard to fix that area of our game and today it showed we can defend but in the next few games we don't want to do that much defending."
Binge praised the likes of Alwyn Roberts, Killingbeck and Battese for their efforts, but reiterated it was an all-round performance.
"We had 16 guys who played well for us today and you need to do that against a side like Brothers," he said.
Rams coach David Krause said his side had made too many errors to win.
"We made a lot of costly errors and got punished on every one of them and when you play against good sides you can't afford to do that," he said.
BALLINA SEAGULLS 20 (Eddie Killingbeck, Willie Hammond, Dylan Montgomery tries; Andrew Battese 4 goals) d MARIST BROTHERS 12 (Brett Spears, Mark Sivewright tries; Spears 2 goals).