Magpies upset the Sawtell Panthers

Jerry Key in full flight against the Panthers.It was a do or die game for the Bellingen/Dorrigo Magpies on Sunday as they played arch rivals Sawtell Panthers in a must win game for the Magpies.

If the Magpies lost they would of been out of the top 5 and needing to win a majority of the rest of the games to stay in touch. Well it was the Magpies day and they ran out convincing winners 37 – 24 with a very dominate display from the get go.

The Magpies raced to a 16 – 0 with only 20 minutes of play and the magician Matt Donovan was outstanding scoring a double early. Mr Magic finished the game with 3 tries and it turned the clock back as the veteran displayed skills that had him the best player in the competition for many many years. The entire Magpie squad were all showing great determination to keep their season alive and were playing outstanding rugby league and every player was working in defence and snuffed out some Sawtell try scoring opportunities. Callan “Bulldozer” Tapine & Tamati “ Brains” Smith were outstanding with the ball and laid the platform with their go forward and this helped new hooker Anthony Donovan to be the orchestrator around the ruck and had the Sawtell forwards constantly on the back foot. Anthony was sensational out of dummy half and added a new dimension to the Magpies attack with his kicking game.

The Magpies went to half time leading 24 – 10 and the handful of supporters at the ground were hoping the Magpies would not self implode like the Coffs Harbour game earlier in the year. When the players returned you could see the determination and focus on the faces of every player and they started the 2nd half like the first full of running. Sawtell must of got a rocket at half time from their coach, as they were defending with ferocity and some of the tackles were questionable but no action taken by the referee but penalties were awarded.

Jerry Key was injected into the game and he continued his impressive run of form and was a handful to the Sawtell defence and made great meters with the ball and beating 2 & 3 defenders with every touch. With the score at 30 – 24 the Magpies were fighting for survival and Sawtell were adding pressure but again the Magpies defence spoiled some try scoring opportunities. With 10 minutes remaining and both teams trying everything to win the experience of Coach Brandon Costin guided the Magpies up the middle of the field and all the players were thinking of the cross field kick when he jumped out of dummy half a slotted a field goal and you could see the relief of the entire Magpies squad when the ball sailed between the sticks. As the clocked ticked down a freakish try was scored by Ricky McGrady who makes scoring tries look so easy. It came from a Sawtell error and the ball bouncing around when Ricky toed the ball ahead and then the ball popped up and he kicked it again to only win the race to the ball and the bounce sat up for Ricky to score beside the post, Bellingen 37 Sawtell 24.

In the change rooms after the game, the player of the match was awarded to none other than Matt Donavan and Coach Costin announced all the other players were awarded 1 point as it was a great team effort.

Stand out players for the day were Matt Donovan, Anthony Donovan, Luke Beaumont again was great at the back and showed some great runs, Darren Byrne played a tough committed game and never stopped working, Jerry Key was great with the ball and is always a handful to stop, Callan Tapine and his usual bulldozing runs & Tamati Smith after spending a night with his Godfather Maurie Hulbert in his ear “T” played the best game he has had this year.

Reserve grade seen the Magpies go down to the much fancied Sawtell Panthers 36 – 16 but the final score did not indicate the way the game was played as the Magpies played some tremendous rugby league and it wasn’t until late in the game that the Panthers skipped away. The Magpies forwards held their own against a big Sawtell pack and they were lead from the front by Ben McLean & Marcus Lowe who is showing some great form of late and has helped the Magpies side go forward. Ben has only played a handful of games but is showing what a quality player he is. A special mention must go to all the young players who turn up each week and give it their all for the Magpies, Dean Barlow, Lachlan Thomas, Jake Mears, Ike Grebert, Gus Burns, Jordon Bolt, Dillon Mears, these players are playing against players much older than themselves but are displaying great courage and skill to match it with the older players. Hopefully these young players will stay in Bellingen/Dorrigo for years to come and play 1st grade for the Magpies.

The High Performance Training Facility in Ebor has seen its first casualty of the year with Paul “ Big Dog” Sheather falling over a sick rainbow trout and hurting his ankle and did not make the trek to Sawtell but his place was taken by training partner Ian “One more Year” Boutell who not only made the trek down the mountain but was named Captain for the day. It is an amazing story to see Izzy Captain this side as the last time he was captain it was for the Bellingen High School Debating team. Izzy is like a good red wine and getting better with age and again had a great game.

The players and committee are urging all supporters to be at the Graveyard on Saturday when the Magpies take on the improved Macksville Sea Eagles as we need to keep winning to ensure that we keep our place in the top 5 and all the players enjoy playing in front of a vocal local crowd and it helps when they need to lift. So please get to the game and support our local side who are doing some amazing things this year but are wondering why the locals do not get to many games. This is a rugby league town with great tradition and history and without supporters there will be no team to follow, and it would be a shame to see this once rugby league super power not have a team to support. So on Saturday get yourself to the Graveyard and give your support and help the Magpies keep winning and keep playing next year and beyond. Without supporters we do not have a rugby league team. “Up the Mighty Magpies 2012”

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