Saturday’s season opener saw Balmain achieve what can only be described as an embarrassing start to the new season, as all three grades were swept aside in the second half of their respective matches.
The firsts produced a solid first half and indeed took the lead when Gavin Buddis, with SportsTab quoting 450-1 pre-match for him to be first scorer, produced a volley of such sublime quality that it left several in the crowd choking on their kebab rolls in delight. A corner was headed clear by the student defense but Buddis, standing well outside the box, never let it touch the ground as he smashed a first time pile driver that flew at knee height until it crashed into the back of the net. It will take something very special to beat that for goal of the season. After that it was pretty much all downhill as the Tigers lost three players to injury, missed a sitter inside the six-yard box, then conceded an equaliser only seconds before half time. Like a hot dog you buy outside the pub at 2am, the Tigers looked good at first but halfway through you started to realise that they were a little underdone. And so it proved as they were overrun in the second half by a fit and well organised Uni side, falling to a 4-1 deficit before Julian Bracewell scored a late consolation to make the final score 4-2 to the visitors.
Unfortunately the news for the 21s was more of the same. The 21s started in style, Hugo Muecke scoring his first goal for the club with his first touch of the ball inside the opening minute. UNSW equalised with a superbly hit free kick and the scores were level at half time. Early in the second half Keith Agnew produced a magnificent one-handed reflex save to deny a certain goal from the visitors. Sadly, Agnew wasn’t playing in goal and was promptly sent from the field, UNSW taking lead with the resultant spot kick. The 10 man Tigers could not hold out a rampant Uni side, who went on to score three more in a 5-1 drubbing.
The 19s showed they were capable of matching their opposition as they ended the first half 2-1 down with a goal from Chris Grayson. Despite producing some fine football, hitting the post, and doing just about everything else, they could not manage to find an equaliser. Alas they too were well beaten in the second half, and finished on the end of a 4-1 scoreline.