Alstonville "Thirds" win finals

Alstonville goalkeeper Mark Pennisi is kept busy in the FNC water polo grand final against Byron Bay at Mullumbimby on Saturday.
Alstonville goalkeeper Mark Pennisi is kept busy in the FNC water polo grand final against Byron Bay at Mullumbimby on Saturday.

THE Alstonville "Thirds" water polo team defied their ranking within their own club to take out the Far North Coast premiership with a 17-7 win over Byron Bay at the Mullumbimby pool on Saturday.

Alstonville had three sides in the first-grade competition this season and the Thirds were considered by some the least likely to succeed.

After a shaky start when they let in two early goals, they fought back to lead 7-2 after the first quarter.

Young James Duffy scored three of those goals and went on to slot two more.

He was well supported by James Mulholland and Jedburgh Pellandine, who each found the net three times.

Simon Tozer was always a threat but the cool heads of Mal Lewis and Tom Silver laid the platform for a structured team performance.

Byron were disappionted with the scale of the loss, having defeated the Thirds the previous week.

After a bright start they didn’t recover from Alstonville’s counterpunch and were playing catch-up for the rest of the match.

Cody Prasser, Shannon Hunter and Alvin Caoyonan each scored twice for the Bay.

James Duffy was named player of the match by the referees.

The B-grade grand final was won by Mullumbimby 8-5 in a rematch of the major semi-final against Lennox Head.

Lennox had won the semi in an upset but Mullum were determined not to let them repeat that.

Greg Milham was assigned the task of marking Lennox Head’s main strike player Ryan Dean and, despite a gap in age and fitness, he accomplished the task.

Dean is a fine, young, strong player and his battle at centre forward with the wily Milham was a highlight of the game.

Milham scored four goals and may have been a candidate for player of the match except for three major fouls that led to his exclusion from the pool near the end.

That honour went to Mullum’s Peter Kirkland for a balanced overall performance.

Mullumbimby triumphed in the C-grade grand final with a thrilling 7-6 win over Alstonville.

The teams were locked 5-all after three quarters and Mullum went to the lead early in the fourth.

Alstonville had a number of consecutive scoring opportunities but appeared to suffer from what is known in the rugby world as ‘white line fever’. They could not find the back of the net.

Mullum were best served by Jackson Callaghan and Sam Dwyer while Alstonville standouts were goalkeeper Karla Carter, Catherine Blackburn and young Liam Hair, who was player of the match for his four goals and strong defence.

The John Pick Memorial Award for the zone’s outstanding Under-18 player went to Alstonville’s Bryce Woollett for a memorable season.

He was unable to attend as he was playing in the Brisbane finals.

Woollett this season was selected for the Australian Under-18 squad and was a member of the Alstonville team that won the Queensland Under-17 championships.