Balmain regained top spot on the league ladder with a comprehensive 11-0 thrashing of league cellar dwellars Sporting SCC on Saturday. To be fair, almost all the Sporting players were backing up after playing the preceding reserve grade fixture. A first half spent camped in the Sporting half ended with the Tigers leading by a relatively slender 4-0 margin – the score could and probably should have hit double figures in the first period alone. Two quick goals after the restart gave the Tigers a 6-0 advantage but the next 20 minutes or so proved frustrating as Sporting defended deep in numbers in an effort to keep the score respectable. The Tigers turned it on in the last 15 minutes of the match though, banging in five more to add to the goal difference which could prove crucial in the run in to the finals. Dan Hanusek lead the scorers with four, Nick Flower scored a hat trick including two from the penalty spot, Steve Lewis bagged a double, and Paul Ritchie and Jake Flower chipped in a goal apiece. Hanusek and Nick Flower shared the Exchange Hotel man of the match honours.
Balmain’s squad depth was again stretched to the limit this week as reserve grade were forced to take the field with only 10 players. Faced with a horrendous injury and holidaying player list, coach Kaltenegger again called on Balmain stalwarts Campbell and Grill and also produced a masterstroke by playing part Brazilian, part Danish goalkeeper Svenaldo as a lone striker. Despite playing with a man down, the Tigers outplayed their opponents in the first half and took a 2-0 lead thanks to a Campbell goal from the penalty spot and slick finish from Dylan Zammit. Balmain made it 3-0 in the second half when Svenaldo produced a superb individual goal involving the beating a couple of would-be tackles and a small chip past the keeper, followed by almost collapsing with exhaustion afterwards. Sporting managed to pull one back with a free kick, but Svenaldo had the final say when he controlled Zammit’s cross then slammed the ball into the top corner to make the final score 4-1 to the Tigers. Peter Glavis earned the man of the match award with a solid performance in defence.
Next week sees Kellyville visiting Birchgrove for top of the table clashes in both grades. With the first team needing a win to stay ahead in a four team race for the title and reserve grade only a point away from clinching their league, it will be a day you won’t want to miss.