Disgraceful? says Magpies? coach after beating Devils
By TONY WHITE
LOWER Clarence mimicked Houdini at Maclean Showground yesterday to escape with two competition points in a scrapathon against lowly-placed Byron Bay Red Devils.
The Magpies scraped in 28-26 but there was little artistry in the win.
Post-match Magpies coach Jason Hebbard best summed up most people's feelings when he said: "Bloody disgraceful."
Loyal Magpies fans were forced to endure 80 minutes of scrappy, stop start football with players having little or no regard for ball security.
"I think we completed 18 of 42 sets," Hebbard said. "That's just not good enough.
"Players have got to learn to treat the ball like gold. We were just too complacent at times.
"We were trying to score off every set of six.
"In this competition you can't afford to be complacent. You've got to have respect for all the teams no matter who they are."
Byron Bay have won just one match this season but they stretched the Magpies right to the wire.
After a bright start -Lower Clarence led 12-nil after five minutes with tries to Darren Blackett and Jason 'China' Wilkinson -- the game deteriorated into mistake-ridden football.
Poor passes, dropped ball and poor execution from both teams completely ruined the game as a spectacle.
Between the fifth and 30th minute of the first half both sides threw away countless chances.
Magpies replacement Campbell Curcio was sent to the sin bin in the 22nd minute for repeated infringements.
Devils replacement Noel King finally got his team on the scoreboard after a neat step then, with the Magpies attacking strongly, a dropped ball was picked up by Byron centre Brad Lees who beat a couple of defenders and raced 90m to score.
Lower went to the break leading 12-8.
The Magpies were in again two minutes into the second stanza through hooker Darren Essex.
Two minutes later Devils centre Thomas Haerewa beat some slack defence to score under the posts and with Lees conversion, trailled 18-14.
Magpies centre Darren Blackett, one of Lower's best players, got a neat one handed pass away to winger Michael Laurie who scored in the corner to take the Magpies to 22-14 then following a chip kick by King, Lees scored and with the conversion the Devils were in the game at 22-20.
In the 67th minute man of the match Jason Wilkinson beat a Devils defender with a neat step and carried another over the line. After converting the Magpies led 28-20.
Wilkinson contributed 16 points with a two tries and four goals and his kicking and leadership around the field kept the Magpies in the match.
In the 71st minute Devils winger Simon Fathers caught a Wilkinson bomb near his own line then interchange passing between Fathers and King down the northern touchline resulted in Fathers scoring under the posts. King converted (28-26) and the game was there for the taking.
Lower managed to hang on to record the club's fifth win of the season including a bye.
Apart from Wilkinson and Blackett fullback Aaron Murray and second-rower Luke Mapperson had strong games.
Byron's best were diminutive hooker Adam Carroll, Lees, Haerewa and props Lincoln Ravdonkis and Robert Worth.