Buccs woken from slumber
By Tony White
A STIRRING, no holds barred half-time pep talk was enough to ignite the Pacific Hotel Yamba Buccaneers out of lethargy to record a 44-17 win over Southern Cross University at Yamba Oval on Saturday.
Yamba's semi-final hopes appeared to be in serious doubt after University swept to a shock 14-0 lead after just five minutes following tries to Michael Randall and winger Rob Warner.
The Buccaneers' ball retention and attitude left a lot to be desired from a team considered a genuine finals contender.
However, Yamba fought back with an opening try to Lee Everett after 15 minutes, followed by Paul Hope crossing after a strong driving maul.
Following another similar phase, Luke Turner scored and Yamba went to the break with a shaky 15-14 lead.
Fullback and goal-kicker Liam Jones left the field after 10 minutes with a hamstring injury and unfortunately replacement kicker Lee Everett was troubled by a larger kicking tee than he prefers.
When Jones left the field, Adrian Miller, who played a full game in thirds after returning from watching the Socceroos in Germany, came on and played 70 minutes in firsts.
Buccaneers coach Andrew Bennett spoke passionately about the team and a lack of attitude and control and made a positional change ? flanker Ban Ralston moving to half and Luke Turner back to his preferred position on the side of the scrum.
Bennett admitted to 'gaining a few more grey hairs' after the inept first stanza.
"I think we just under-estimated what University had. We were a little too confident and relaxed and it showed," Bennett said.
The Buccaneers again slipped behind two minutes into the second half after a University penalty goal, but thereafter, finally clicked into gear.
The Buccaneers played some sterling football with sweeping movements and powerful forward play. They raced in for five second half tries to Nathan Ensby, Miller, Hope, Turner and prop Ben Lardner to put the issue beyond doubt.
"We controlled the ball much better and didn't turn it over as we did in the first half," Bennett said.
"Thankfully, it was a much-improved performance in the second half."
Hope was awarded the club's best and fairest ahead of Pat Day and Lardner with Day getting the players' player award.
Yamba take on Lennox Head, thrashed by Casino on Saturday, next weekend away then Tweed at home the following week. A win in both games would leave Yamba in a solid finals position.