Action from the pool between Le-Ba and Lennox Head in Far North Coast water polo at Ballina on Monday night. Photo: Ursula Bentley @CapturedAus
Action from the pool between Le-Ba and Lennox Head in Far North Coast water polo at Ballina on Monday night. Photo: Ursula Bentley @CapturedAus

Byron’s battle to reclaim top spot in the pool

EXPECTATIONS are high for a number of teams ahead of the Far North Coast water polo finals next month.

Byron Bay started well but has lost some key players recently while the top Alstonville team has won nine of its 10 games.

Lennox Head and Mullumbimby are still in the mix, with the latter having played in the last two grand finals.

Lennox has been edging closer to a final in recent years and been the only team to defeat Alstonville in an 8-4 win in November.

“We’ve probably only played one bad game all year but a few of the other teams have caught up to us,” Byron Bay captain Brendan Irwin said.

“It’s good to be in the mix after a couple of years rebuilding.

“We’re lucky to pick up a few extra players from overseas who don’t mind playing in a social competition.”

One of those imports was Joost Neugebauer who has just left town, while longtime goal keeper Adam Ryan has moved on recently.

It has forced Irwin to fill in at goals, leaving the team without one of its better attacking players in the pool.

“We’re a decent team when we have our full squad and we don’t want to fade away from here,” Irwin said.

“We miss Joost. He probably had one of the better arms of anyone in the competition and we all learned a lot from him.

“He was a strong swimmer and was probably holding a bit back in games, if anything.

“Adam has been really strong for us in goals over the years. He moved to Brisbane for work but we’ll get him back for finals.

“Alstonville has a really well-balanced team and Mullumbimby has been a bit under the radar this year but they’ll be really hard to beat.”

Byron Bay has also had a women’s team this year playing in a four-team competition.

Grand final day will be held at either Alstonville or Ballina on March 21.