PIONEER POWER: Wollongbar-Alstonville No 8 Alex Gibbon proved a handful for Ballina on Saturday.
PIONEER POWER: Wollongbar-Alstonville No 8 Alex Gibbon proved a handful for Ballina on Saturday. Vicki Kerry

Brothers are unstoppable at the Bar

BROTHERS Ben, Dan and Josh Damen were dominant when Wollongbar-Alstonville thumped Ballina 46-10 in Far North Coast rugby union at Quays Reserve, Ballina, on Saturday.

The defending premiers were relentless in the top-of-the-table clash and the result highlights the gap between the unbeaten Pioneers and the rest of the competition this season.

Centre Dan Damen crossed for two first-half tries with help from his older brother Ben at five-eighth while fullback Josh Damen also scored a great try in the corner.

Josh Damen was too classy for his younger opposition out wide and several long-range efforts led to tries.

All three brothers have played at NSW Country level or higher but had not played together for a number of years until this season.

The Pioneers skipped out to a 29-0 lead straight after half-time when halfback Louis Hollman crossed.

"In broken play those boys can cut you to pieces,” Wollongbar coach Paul Jeffery said.

"There were some long-range tries which were probably some of the best we've scored all year.

"To be honest, sometimes I just sit back and wonder how they do it.

"We rely on front foot ball to do that and it comes when the forwards are doing their job.”

Hollman scored a second try before the score blew out to 46-5 when No 8 Alex Gibbon crossed.

Gibbon is another club junior back in the fold this season after having played Shute Shield in Sydney and represented with the Australian rugby sevens team.

The Pioneers did well to reduce the main attacking threats from Ballina in centre Tupou Lolohea and fullback Luke Simpson.

Both were well contained with Simpson scoring a try soon after half-time before a try to winger Leigh Foster towards the end.

"They're quality players and we knew we had to stay on them in this game and not let them cut back inside,” Jeffery said.

"Our second halves have been poor so to come out and score first was really pleasing.

"The forwards held their own and we knew they would have to against a pack like Ballina.

"I have some selection headaches with guys coming back but it's good for our reserve grade and our club won all three grades today.”

In other games:

Byron Bay was made to work for a 36-32 win over bottom-placed Lismore at Lismore Rugby Park.

Southern Cross University had its third win of the season, 13-10 over Bangalow at Schultz Oval, Bangalow.

Lennox Head did just enough in defence for a 21-15 win over Casino at Albert Park, Casino.

Casuarina defeated Grafton 33-31 in a high-scoring encounter at Grafton Rugby Park.


Wollongbar-Alstonville 46 (Louis Hollman 2, Daniel Damen 2, Alex Gibbon, Bill Johnston, Josh Damen, James Vidler tries; Ben Damen 3 conversions) d Ballina 10 (Leigh Foster, Luke Simpson tries). Half-time: Wollongbar 24-0.

Byron Bay 36 (Romey Vassell 2, Jascha Saeck 2, Jordan Elliott tries; Peter Gillespie 4 conversions, penalty goal) d Lismore 32 (Sam Nilon 2, Brenden Williams, Cameron Bryant, Ben Carroll tries; Andrew Sky, James Grubb conversions; Andrew Sky penalty goal). Half-time: Byron Bay 26-15.

Southern Cross University 13 (Matt McMullen try; Will Hawkins conversion, 2 penalty goals) d Bangalow 10 (Sam Campbell try; Blake Neilsen conversion, penalty goal). Half-time: Bangalow 10-6.

Lennox Head 21 (Jacob Carter, Jack Norman, Rhys Tatum tries; Matthew Bermingham 3 con- versions) d Casino 15 (Harrison Cusack, Ben Collison tries; Harrison Cusack conversion, penalty goal). Half-time: Casino 8-7.

Casuarina Beach 33 (Mitch Planten 2, Richard White 2, Webb Lillis tries; Webb Lillis 4 conversions) d Grafton 31 (Zac Mason-Gale 2, Jack Anderson, Kyle Hancock, Gus Wilson tries; Adam Smidt 3 conversions). Half-time: Casuarina 19-5.

Pointscore: Wollongbar 50, Casuarina 35, Lennox Head 34, Ballina 31, Byron Bay 29, Grafton 29, Casino 19, SCU 14, Bangalow 11, Lismore 7.

Next round this Saturday: Byron Bay v Grafton, Casuarina Beach v Casino, Wollongbar-Alstonville v Lismore, Lennox Head v Bangalow (and Mullumbimby), SCU v Ballina.

Reserve grade: Wollongbar 38 d Ballina 17, Casino 22 d Lennox Head 19, Casuarina Beach 29 d Grafton 22, Mullumbimby 30 d Southern Cross University 0.

Women's sevens: Wollongbar 52 d Ballina 22, Casino 39 d Evans River 17, Yamba 30 d SCU 0.

Next round: SCU v Ballina, Evans River v Yamba, Byron Bay v Grafton.

President's Cup: Tenterfield 24 d Evans River 5, Yamba 31 d Kyogle 7, Ballina 27 d Iluka 12.

Next round: Iluka v Grafton, Evans River v Yamba, Ballina v Kyogle.

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