Coraki missed four late goal chances and a spot in the grand final for the first time in 20 years, going down to Ballina 4-2 in the elimination final of the Far North Coast Hockey League at Hepburn Park on Saturday night.
In a stirring and feisty encounter the hard men from where the rivers meet went down to the slick skills of Ballina despite a furious last six minutes of play. The loss means that Coraki wont be contesting the grand final for the first time since 1986.
Peter Taylor was inspiring for Ballina during the match, providing organisation and defensive nous to turn the tide.
Ballinas Sam Davis opened the scoring while Daniel Riley extended the lead to give them a great start, but Coraki hit back just before the break with a late goal to Adrian McGrath, and they evened things up early in the second with a goal to Josh Molyneux.
This stirred the men in sky blue into action and in the space of just three minutes they hammered in two goals through Riley and then Ryan Kilpatrick and these proved to be the decisive minutes of the match.
The final accolade must go to the Ballina defence, who withstood the Coraki reply and held out to take the historic victory.
Ballina will now meet East Lismore in the grand final at Hepburn Park at 4.30pm this Saturday.
East Lismore converted a penalty corner after the full time hooter to earn a spot in the grand final on Saturday against arch rivals Glee. The win means the East Lismore club will contest seven of the 10 senior grand finals.
Ballina were shell-shocked by the result after leading the match for all but the last 10 minutes. Ballina opened the match in blistering fashion with Alison Parr scoring early on. Ballina continued to press for most of the first half until just before half time when Michelle Anderson was taken to hospital after she caught a ball on the jaw.
Easts lifted their tempo in the second half and with Ballinas normal keeper away it wasnt long till the pressure drew two penalty corners. Neither of the two conversions left Kate Bairds stick with any venom but both bobbled over the line and the Easts girls were ecstatic.
East Lismore will now take on their nemesis Glee in the grand final on Saturday at Hepburn Park at 3pm.
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