Warriors down Toowoomba's Darlings

BALLINA ruckman Tim King booted five goals in a commanding four-quarter display to guide the Summerland AFL to a 29-point win over Darling Downs at Fripp Oval, Ballina, on Saturday.

The giant Croweater brought several of his team-mates into play with his deft ruckwork as the (unofficially titled) ‘Rainbow Warriors’ belied their doomed namesake’s reputation to overwhelm the visitors from the Toowoomba-based league to win 18.8 (116) to 12.11 (83).

The original Rainbow Warrior was the Greenpeace vessel that was sunk by French intelligence operatives in Auckland Harbour in New Zealand in 1985.

The local rep team, coached by Croweater great, two-time AFL premiership player Shaun Rehn, had a fight on their hands as the visitors assumed the attack position early.

An even first term gave way to a more open second quarter where the home side defied a strong breeze to take a 20-point lead into the main break.

It was King’s work around the stoppages that gave his foot soldiers – including Travis Clarke, Pat Bulzomi (Ballina) and the tireless Arnold Knight (Tweed Coast) – plenty of chances to drive the ball forward.

Full-forward Doug Perich (Byron Magpies) and forward pocket Billy Walker (Nimbin) capitalised on their team-mates’ work rate.

The Summerlanders’ backline, marshalled into position by Kurt Bullock (Byron) at centre half-back, tightened up to keep the visitors’ forwards in check.

King, in his second year with the Bombers after moving from South Australia, praised his team-mates and the rep concept.

“I was surprised to be voted best-on-ground. I thought other players, like Arnold Knight, were brilliant; Kurt Bullock, Pat Bulzomi – he was good. We had a really good forward line; you enjoy playing footy with blokes like that,” he said.

“The skill level was another step up because you have all the best players from the area in the one team and that helps you out.

“I think the depth of experience was really good; there were young kids playing who really stepped up, and also first-year players from junior footy. It was really good for them, you couldn’t fault anyone.”

While King played a prominent role in taking the home side to victory, it was also a day for cameos.

It was Bulzomi’s 20-metre chase and tackle on a Darling Downs opponent late in the third term that was a talking point. It led to a turnover and a goal for the home team, lifting the Warriors during a tense period, and drawing praise from Rehn.

Bulzomi was, in fact, playing his first game for the year and he has seemingly picked up where he left off.

Another playing his first game this season was Walker.

Aside from his brilliant snap on goal from a tight angle in the first quarter, Walker proved his value as an elusive, roving forward pocket, teaming with Perich in a great double-act.

Rehn told his side during the three-quarter-time break to keep the ball down the middle and enjoy the game.

“I want more of the same; play honest footy, take ownership of the game, and have fun,” Rehn told his charges.

That they did.

King chipped in with his fifth goal from a difficult angle into the breeze to steady the ship.

“They were a good side,” King said of Darling Downs.

“They kept pushing and pushing and there was no real point in the game where you think you’d win.

“And having Shaun as coach was great.

“It was fantastic having a coach who has played at the highest level, including winning premierships.”

Results from AFL Northern Rivers Juniors yesterday:

Under-12s: Byron W 7.11 (53) d Lismore 1.3 (9); Ballina 12.10 (82) d Plateau; 2.4 (16); Byron W 9.6 (60) d Brunswick Valley 0.0 (0).

Under-14s: Lismore 8.13 (61) d Byron 7.4 (46); Ballina 4.4 (28) d Tweed Coast 3.9 (27).

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