Pioneers shut out Ballina

WOLLONGBAR-Alstonville may have won the first-grade battle, but Ballina won the Dane Cupitt Memorial Shield in Far North Coast rugby union at Quays Reserve, Ballina, on Saturday.

The Pioneers completed a 20-0 shut out of the Seahorses in the top grade but earlier results from the lower grades went to the home side, meaning the shield stays put for another year.

Barry Carpenter’s Pioneers put together a complete performance to grab their third straight win.

Flankers Braeden Slattery and Michael Wilson dominated at the breakdown as the visitors got on top early and never relented.

Carpenter was quick to praise his breakaways.

“They were outstanding – very passionate – and caused a lot of damage,” Carpenter said.

“They are our Phil Waughs – it’s not bad having two of them.”

From the first score of the match it was obvious whose day it was.

The Pioneers were awarded a penalty on halfway and scrum-half Lachlan Crockett stepped up to attempt to make the score 3-0.

His kick sailed the 50 metres and landed on the cross-bar before falling over as the touch judges raised their flags.

Soon after, Crockett crossed for a try, converted it, and the Pioneers went to the dressing sheds up 10-0.

A lacklustre Ballina never really got into the game – but were never given a chance as the Pioneers forwards strangled them.

In the second half winger Sam Marsh crossed for his first try of 2010, with a conversion and penalty from the boot of Crockett rounding out the scoreline.

The competition now takes a two-week break – good timing for the Pioneers coach, who has a few niggling injuries to manage.

“The break comes at a good time for us; we should be at full force by the time we have to travel to Lennox for a big clash in a month,” he said.

Premiers Lennox Head, meanwhile, ran in seven tries on Casino’s home ground to maintain their unbeaten streak.

Harry Witt and Harry Bungate proved hard to stop for the Trojans, Witt grabbing a treble of five-pointers and Bungate a double.

The Trojans are streaking away from the field at the top of the ladder and still have representative players Jeff Wilson and Sam Stewart to welcome back to the fold.

At Grafton, Southern Cross University came within a whisker of their first win, falling to the Redmen 14-12.

A missed conversion from James Jeffress is all that stood between a loss and a draw, with Grafton registering its first victory of the season.

Club rugby takes a two-week break now with a match between FNC and Mid North Coast next weekend.

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