Bombers take on Swans and come out on top
AFTER Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes opened the AFL's indigenous round with passion at the SCG on Friday night, the local Lismore Swans put on a moving pre-game ceremony before tackling the Ballina Bombers in local Aussie Rules on Saturday.
Ballina held off the fast-finishing Swans to win the game at Mortimer Oval 9.10 (64) to 8.5 (53).
Fittingly, the quickest to make a mark on the game was the Bombers' diminutive speedster Billy Walker, who kicked a skilful goal.
Kris Davis dominated the ruck for the Bombers while Swans centre Rhan Coughlan was beston ground by a fair margin.
Swans coach Phil Tsourlinis' possessions came mainly in a defensive role.
The Bombers led by two points at quarter-time after each team had kicked two goals.
In a physical second quarter the Bombers' Matt Bell imposed his physical presence and gave the Ballina midfield of Doug North, Jake Hayes and Brian Walshe a key target.
In what may have been the turning point of the game, Bell badly twisted his ankle in taking a mark just before half-time and had to leave the field.
Rhyan Phelan took Bell's kick and converted to give Ballina a 10-point lead.
In the third quarter, first-season players Liam Seymour, a soccer convert, and Ethan Greiner had an impact and the ageless Sam Kennedy kicked three goals to one and take a 20-point lead into the final term.
The Swans turned the game on its head when indigenous player Timmy Whalan ran down Walker in a sensational holding the ball.
Whalan's disposal was pin-point and a crucial 50m penalty against Bombers full back John Kennedy gifted the Swans a goal to make the difference just eight points with five minutes to go.
Despite Wes Seewald and Paul Blain lifting the Swans' attack, the Bombers held on to win by 11 points.
Bombers coach Steve Huckerby praised the defensive efforts of John Kennedy and Trent Rees.
"They scored only eight goals including two from poor discipline and 50m penalties," he said.
"We held strong for four quarters; now we need to do that across the ground."
Swans coach Tsourlinis praised Shaun King for stepping up during their injury problems and was encouraged by his team's fightback, in particular Swans junior Lewis Wright's effort in defence and the emerging junior Taylor Alexander on the forward flank.