Barbs bundled aside from North Coast Premier League
BARBS Hagars became the last Grafton team bundled out of the Far North Coast Premier League.
Ballina won Sunday's semi-final clash 3-0 at Brent Livermore Field. But Barbs did not go down without a fight and with a little luck could have produced a different result.
Sporting an impressive head wound from an accidental stick in the first half, coach Ray Loy rued his side's missed opportunities.
"I don't think the opposition was any better or stronger than us. We just didn't play to our potential and didn't play controlled, constructive hockey," Loy said.
"We weren't patient. Our composure wasn't there.
"Our strength has been controlling the middle of the field and we didn't do that today."
Tyler Rundle, Corey Watson and Toby Cronin scored the goals for Ballina.
Interim coach Wayne Porter, who stepped in following the late-season retirement of former Australian Kookaburra Grant Smith, applauded the concept of the competition now nearing the completion of its second season.
"It's an awesome competition," Porter said.
"With only four A Grade teams at home, to be able to come out here it just makes the season feel that much shorter because you don't have to repeat playing the same clubs.
"And it's a different style of hockey down here, which has been great."
Last season no Grafton teams reached the semi-finals. This time Barbs were represented in Premier League and Reserve Grade, with City Bears also in Reserves.
"There's absolutely been a marked improvement in the Grafton sides," Porter said. "I think last year they were a bit surprised by the different style in hockey.
"They are certainly using the pockets and full width of the field more and getting a lot harder for us old blokes."
However, both grand finals in a fortnight will feature Coraki and Ballina.
Coraki ran away in the second half against Barbs Horribles in Reserve Grade while Ballina clinched a 3-2 win in drop-off extra time against City Bears.
"The old enemy," Porter said. "We'll stick it to them and I'm sure Coraki will give it back."