Luke Gonzalas in action in the round 1 clash with Orara Valley at Bellingen Park.The weather cleared and the day looked set for the Magpies to go to Orara to get the much needed 2 points to keep the momentum going on the march towards the final series, but it wasn’t to be with the Magpies going down to the Axemen 17 – 10 in conditions pigs would of enjoyed.
The conditions of the Orara Valley ground were like it had been not stopped raining for 2 weeks straight.
The muddy conditions helped the Axemen as it stopped the Magpies elusive backs from playing entertaining footy and were constantly on the back foot. You could sense it was going to be a long afternoon for the Magpies with some uncharacteristic errors whist in possession, and giving the Axemen very good field position in the early stages of the game.
With Coach Costin resting Matt Donovan from the early exchanges the Magpies looked out of sorts in attack and the Axemen kept charging their forwards up the middle of the ground and a very good kicking game was making it very difficult for the Magpies to get into the game.
Orara capitalised on errors from the Magpies and scored adjacent to the posts to start the game with a 6 – 0 lead and full of running. It didn’t take long for the Magpies to bounce back and a very good try to Corey Sinclair hitting a hole out wide to take the score to 6 – 4.
The score stayed like this for most of the 1st half and it was like watching a world heavy weight title fight with both sides not willing to give the other side an advantage and both teams slugging it out in the middle of the field. Orara again capitalized on a Bellingen handling error and pressured the Magpies defence until it broke scoring a try wide out and the score was then 10 – 4.
Just prior to the halftime break ex Magpie Dan Tempest made a break up the eastern side of the field and was pulled down awkwardly just before the line but did not regain his feet and stayed down. Numerous medical staff entered the field and the crowd could sense it was a major injury and the word back from the training was that he has broken his shoulder very bad and can’t move. At this point in time the referee decided to call halftime with 1 minute 55 sec on the clock as an Ambulance had been called.
The halftime break was extended due to the injury and the players were walking around with no idea when play would start again and the break was nearly 20minutes in time. Both sides started to warm up again as the break was so long and the Magpie supporters thought that this would be good for the players to regroup and get back to the game plan. Orara had other plans and came out in the 2nd half with the same intensity as the 1st and were first to score a try and extend their lead out to 16 – 4. With the Magpies with all the work in front of them, it was going to take a miracle to score 3 tries in a game that points were hard to come by and this was made even more difficult when the Orara number 7 guided his side down the field and he calmly kicked a field goal to take the score and a commanding lead 17 – 4. Time was against the Magpies but it did not stop Magic Matt Donovan from scoring adjacent to the posts and the Magpies in with a very slim chance trailing 17 – 10.
With time ticking away the Magpies started playing some razzle dazzle football and throwing the ball from side to side but again some scrappy handling and drop ball gave the home side the advantage to finish the game. This was the final score and the Orara Valley Axemen winning their first game of the year and they celebrated afterwards like they had won the grand final. It was fitting for the Axemen as they had the annual Old Boys day at the ground and they too were excited for this once super power club winning like they did.
Best players for the Magpies were Corey Sinclair who again was nonstop in defence and attack. Anthony Donovan was very dangerous out of dummy half and had a very good kicking game. Luke Beaumont was strong at the back but the conditions did not suit his running game. Ryan O’Connor started the game and was very good in the early exchanges. Darren Byrne was very good in defence and rattled a couple of the Axemen with some big hits.
Reserve Grade finished with the Magpies going down on the bell 30 – 28 but were in front for the majority of the match. The Magpies too found the conditions tough to play in but they were the dominate side for 79minuts of the game but could not hold on at the end. Every player who took part in this game gave it their all and should be proud of their efforts, but special mention must go to John Bond who played his best game this year with some barnstorming runs.
With such a young squad each player is getting better and better and we won’t see this side develop until next year after having a full season together and knowing what needs to be done to win games. Again congratulations are in order for Trevor Sinclair & Blair Sankey who week in week out rally the players to get to the games and are helping each player to improve their games. Big Blair Sankey even took the field to help out this side again on the weekend and with the new fancy haircut looked like a young bull out there charging into the Axemen forwards.
Another young player showing plenty of potential is young Jake Mears who is still only 16 but mixing it with the experienced players. Also Dean Barlow has improved his game and will be better next year for the experience he gained from this year.
A big loss for the Magpies were the 2 Ebor Warriors Paul “ Big Dog” Sheather and his mate Izzy “ One More Year” Boutell. Apparently Izzy was most upset he did not get invited down to help Big Dog in Newcastle and was last seen rubbing a pregnant trout on the belly singing lullabies to it about how hard done by he is. I spoke with Izzy after the match and informed him of the result and you could hear in his voice he was very emotional and wanted me to pass on to the players he was sorry for missing the game and asked me to tell the players he loves them like family and will get over this sad time in his life. There is rumblings up the mountain and it will be interesting when Big Dog returns from his luxury holiday to see if the relationship remains between these 2 trout farmers.
Next week the Magpies play arch rivals Coffs Harbour at the Graveyard on Sunday with Reserve Grade kicking off at 1.00pm followed by the must win 1st grade game kicking off at 2.30pm. The players and committee are urging all Bellingen supporters to get to the game to cheer on the home side and help them beat the Comets and turn the tide from the 1st round. So get to the Graveyard on Sunday and support the Bellingen/Dorrigo Magpies and help them finish the season in the top 5. “Up the Magpies 2012”
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