Ballina reigns after cliffhanger

Ballina won the SAFL grand final by the merest of margins 13.17.95 to 13.11.89 with the Lismore Swans narrowly missing out on what would have been the greatest upset in the 22 years of the competition.

In front of a massive crowd at Fripp Oval both teams slugged it out in a gripping, drama-filled epic. In the first quarter the Swans centre square quartet of Luke Hensche, Daniel Bruce, Jimmy Howard and Jack Hatfield won great ball from the centre bounces, which restricted the movements of Ballinas ball runners Patti Bulzomi, Tim Price and Matt Buddesford. The second quarter was just as intense with both teams engaged in a titanic struggle until they trudged off at the main break locked up at 44 all.

In the third quarter the Bombers rose to the occasion, making a comeback with goals to big Peter Plummer, Haydn Borley and Timmy Price.

The last quarter see-sawed wildly with the lead changing several times. In what turned out to be the sealing goal, Simon Howard laid on a chance for Patti Bulzome after a daring fullback run. The Swans had a chance at a one point win when Jack Hatfield ran down the flank to set up Adam Rhodes in kicking distance. But unfortunately it was not to be, with umpire Mark Stafford calling Hatfield back for running too far and awarding a free kick to the Bombers. The Swans were gobsmacked to say the least.

It had been a grand struggle, and a match worthy of a grand final, and the Swans will be there next year for another shot. Congratulations to the Bombers on a brilliant season.

Up there Cazaly!

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