Byron favourites for grand final
THE Alstonville ‘Thirds’ are through to the Far North Coast A-grade water polo grand final at Mullumbimby today.
They defeated the young and talented Alstonville ‘Ones’ 10-8 in the preliminary final in Lismore on Wednesday to set up a rematch of the major semi-final against minor premiers Byron Bay.
Byron Bay won that game 8-7 after a vigorous contest and will start the grand final today as slight favourites.
Goalkeeper Brian Donnellan is in top form, as is Peter Wilson, who slotted four goals in the major semi.
The ageless Alvin Caoyonan, a former Canadian representative, is another Byron Bay star who has the speed and skill to capitilise on every break.
Alstonville is a classic mix of youth and experience with captain Tom Silver and goalkeeper Mark Pennisi having been with the club since before 16-year-old Kate Bracey was even born.
Former Australian representative Kai Pick and James Mulholland impressed on Wednesday night, picking up six goals between them.
The A-grade grand final is scheduled to start at 3pm.
The B-grade grand final (2pm) has defending champions Lennox Head against minor premiers Mullumbimby.
Despite incurring 15 major fouls, Lennox downed Mullum 8-6 in an upset on Monday and are striking form at the right time.
Coach Gary Goldsmith has worked on the legalities during the week and is confident of a strong performance.
Goalkeeper Ray Dein and his sons Ryan and Mick stood out on Monday as did Fred Goodman, who slotted two goals in extra time to seal the win.
Mullum are keen for victory. They are another side that relies on the skill of the experienced and the speed of youth.
Former Cronulla and NSW veteran Greg Milham is alwaysa danger at centre forward and young striker Lewis Harvey can pot a goal from anywhere.
Peter Kirkland impressed in Mullum’s preliminary final win over Le-Ba in Lismore on Wednesday.
The first match of the day is the C-grade clash (1pm) between Mullumbimby and Alstonville C2.
Mullum went straight through to the grand final with a tight 2-1 extra-time win over Byron Bay on Monday.
The Byron Bay team then had to back up on Wednesday night but could not match Alstonville, which won 7-4.
Byron’s coach, Karen Irwin, has done great job in moulding her young side and despite missing out they can look to the future with confidence.
Mullum are also a young side and coach Brian Donnellan praised the efforts of new players Sam Dwyer, Olivia Salvatori and Nat Russell.
Alstonville have the experience of Karla Carter in goals and Ives Smith, who played in the first years of the Far North Coast competition.
Former triathalete Kate Gold played her first game of water polo in January but her competitive nature clicked in as soon as she took to the pool.
Liam Hair’s strong swimming will be a threat but Mullum will start as favourites.
Zone president Jonathon Horsley has been impressed by the standard of play this season.
“All are welcome to the Mullumbimby pool today for what should be three exciting and passionate contests,” he said.