Pioneers make a statement in FNC Rugby
DEFENDING premiers Wollongbar-Alstonville fired a warning shot with an emphatic 60-19 win over Lennox Head in Far North Coast rugby union at Lyle Park, Wollongbar, on Saturday.
The Pioneers ran in nine tries with a double to winger James Vidler bringing up his 16th try of the season.
It was always going to be tough going for the Trojans with key personnel missing from the backline and a 33-5 deficit at half-time.
Take nothing away from the home side, who still have more players to come back and have now won four games by more than 50 points.
"We were able to maintain our structure and a few other things we've been working on at training came off,” Wollongbar-Alstonville coach Ern Sandral said.
"There is plenty of experience in our tight five and they led the way with a really good effort from our back three,” Sandral said.
"We've got young blokes like Hamish Mould and he was chopping bigger blokes down with his defence.
"The scoreline probably doesn't reflect the game though, Lennox Head were gritty and kept fighting to the end.”
Five-eighth Ben Damen steered the team well while flanker Nick Pennisi continued his strong start to the season.
Sandral made mention of his veterans in hooker Bill Johnston, second-rowers Matt Scott and Steve Mison and Damen.
"We're lucky that we have those guys who maintain our standards and a really positive club culture,” he said.
"They're all club juniors and we're a team that does well with discipline and keeping our emotions in tact.”
In other games, Ballina remained unbeaten with a convincing 50-10 win over Bangalow at Schultz Oval, Bangalow.
Captain Andrew Burke was outstanding for Ballina and scored a try after half-time to extend the Seahorses' lead to 28-3.
Ballina five-eighth Grant Knight recovered from an early laceration to the back of his head to create opportunities for the players outside him.
Elsewhere, Lismore City celebrated its first win with a 23-0 shut-out over cross-town rivals Southern Cross University at Lismore Rugby Park.
And Byron Bay No 8 Dru Baggaley bagged a try-scoring double in a 36-10 win over Casuarina.
Ballina 50(Nick Brydon, Andrew Burke, Nick Watson, Terry Ferguson, Anthony Lolohea, Seamus Reen, Tom Watson tries, Nick Brydon 6 conversions, penalty goal) d Bangalow 10(Chris Bleakley try, Tom Slater conversion, penalty goal)
Half Time: Ballina 21 - Bangalow 3
Wollongbar Alstonville 60(James Vidler 2, Steven Mison, Angus Thearle, Matt Scott, Ben Damen, Vaughan Sandral, Matt Nean, Hamish Mould tries, Sam Kerry 6 conversions, penalty goal) d Lennox Head 19(Scott Stapleton, Jono Huddy, Sam Powell tries, Jackson Lang 2 conversions)
Half Time: Wollongbar 33 - Lennox 5
Lismore 23(Ben Briggs, Vaughan Nilsson, Stephen Prosser tries, Andrew Sky conversion, 2 penalty goals) d Southern Cross University 0
Half Time: Lismore 5 - SCU 0
Byron Bay 36(Dru Baggaley 2, Charles Woollard, Harvey Bell, Jordan Foster, Michael Cooney tries, Joel Stocks 3 conversions) d Casuarina Beach 10(Adam Parlby try, Vitori Buatava conversion, penalty goal)
Half Time: Byron 12 - Casuarina 3
Point Score - Wollongbar 31, Ballina 30, Lennox 26, Byron Bay 25, Bangalow 20, Casuarina 15, Casino 7, Lismore 6, SCU 0
Mullumbimby 19 d Lismore 12
Wollongbar 13 d Lennox Head 10
Ballina 26 d Bangalow 15
Byron Bay 50 d Casuarina Beach 5
Yamba 24 d Murwillumbah 7
Kyogle 22 d Tenterfield 20
Evans River 45 d Iluka 7