A cut above
By Tony White
'Razor' Ray Mercy cut his rivals to shreds at Oakes Oval Lismore last night.
In front of more than 8000 rugby league fans, there to see the City v Country Origin game later that night the mercurial South Grafton Rebels five-eighth starred in Northern Rivers 46-10 defeat of Northern Division in the NSW Country Championships.
The 31-year-old playmaker scored four tries and set up another in an awesome display of precision football.
"That was good fun," Mercy said after the win.
"Everyone one out there was having a great time.
"We went great for a team that has just been put together."
Typical of Mercy's laconic attitude to his brilliant performance, he praised the Northern Rivers forward pack.
"Our forwards laid the platform, they made it easier for us (the backs)," Mercy said.
"It's really pleasing, the win, and great for the team.
"Next week's game is going to be harder and tougher, but hopefully we can continue on winning."
Mercy, who has NRL experience with the Cowboys, has previously scored five tries in first grade games, but last night's quadrella was his first in representative football.
"I'm pretty happy," Mercy said with a wide grin.
The Clarence Valley's other Northern Rivers representative, Grafton Ghosts lock Don Dickson played well with limited opportunities.
"It was a great experience, but it's hard to carry injuries into a game like this," Dickson said.
"It was a very big win by the boys.
Mercy scored the first of his four tries from a pass by Dickson to open Northern Rivers account in the ninth minute.
Between the 62nd minute and 75th minute of the second half Mercy crossed for three more tries.
After breaking a tackle he sprinted 55m to score next to the post and following a dropped ball, Mercy scooped it up and sprinted 50 metres to score under the posts.
His final touchdown came following a strong break down the Eastern touchline by Murwillumbah hooker Jarrod Brown.
Brown too had an outstanding match. He was busy around the ruck, setting up supports deftly and was also strong in defence.
By half time Northern Rivers had raced to a 22-6 lead and never looked back.
Northern Division's cause was not helped when captain Matt Parsons limped off the field in the 27th minute after suffering a leg injury following a gang tackle.
Brothers winger Nicko Vakararawa and Ricky Laing, from Murwillumbah, often made good inroads with space created by the inside backs.
Brothers front-rower Simon Andrews and Tweed Heads prop Mykal Hema made numerous inroads into the Northern Division line.
Ballina star Sean Laurie was immaculate with the boot, kicking six conversions and Cudgen fullback Craig Thurston was always elusive and created numerous opportunities with his reading of the game.
Scorers: Northern Rivers 46: Ray Mercy 4 Sean Laurie, Nicko Vakararawa, Craig Thurston, Brian McCarthy tries. Sean Laurie 6, Craig Thurston goals.
Northern Division: Brett Thomas 2 tries Ben Surtees goal.Half time Northern Rivers lead 22-6. Pen: Northern Division 4, Northern Rivers 3.