Giant prop smashes Tweed Coast
By Tony White
AN inspired game from giant front-rower Wayne Read and second half magic from lock Aaron Murray lifted Lower Clarence Magpies to a 40-24 win over Tweed Coast Raiders at Maclean Showground yesterday.
Read, a part-time super heavyweight boxer, was like a runaway freight train charging through the ruck gaining valuable yardage every time he handled the ball.
Due to a problem with asthma, he was used in spurts by Magpies captain-coach Jason Wilkinson, but to maximum effect with interchange player Curtis Laurie.
Murray, who had a relatively quiet first half, led from the front when Lower fell behind for the first time in the match after a Nathan Jordan try to Tweed to lift the Raiders to a 18-16 lead, 11 minutes into the second half.
Murray then almost single handedly snapped Lower from lethargy, injecting himself into every attacking play scoring two great tries and throwing a magical final pass for Ryan Binge to score.
And second-rower Tom Freebody deserves special mention.
The back rower received a late call up by Northern Rivers against Newcastle in the representative match at McKittrick Oval on Saturday then backed up again yesterday, toiling hard throughout.
Freebody also celebrates his 22nd birthday today.
"I'm not too sore at the moment," he said straight after the game. "But tomorrow might be a different story."
The Magpies looked classy at times, but the problematic major slumps continued.
However, as a spectacle the game was marred by lot of dropped ball and a mountainous 27 penalties. Referee Troy Martin penalising the Magpies on 18 occasions and the Raiders nine times. Most were for head-high tackles.
He had more chats in the middle with players and captains from both sides than 10 talk back show hosts put together.
Martin's patience eventually wore out when Magpie fullback Grant Brown was sin binned for 10 minutes very late in the game for dissent.
Wilkinson was happy to get the two points and his players overall performance.
"On the whole, besides that bad 15 minutes, the boys all dug in and I'm pretty happy," he said. "It seems to be a fitness thing where we drop off but in the end it was a good result."
The win moves Lower to eight points on the NRRRL premiership ladder.
Wilkinson had a top first half and made some crunching tackles in the second stanza when niggle came into the game and there were plenty of square ups taking place.
Second-rower Daniel Cowling was strong throughout and winger Ben McDonald elusive.
The Raiders were best served by winger Norm Berryman who scored a try after playing a full game in reserve grade then backed up with three four-pointers in first grade.
Half Jamie Wilson led his side well and five-eighth Nathan Jordan was creative at times.
Lower led 18-8 at half time. The Magpies take on Ballina away next weekend.
FIRST GRADE: LOWER CLARENCE 40 (Aaron Murray 2, Grant Brown, Ben McDonald, Dave Purcell, Daniel Cowling, Ryan Binge tries; Jason Wilkinson 6 goals) d TWEED COAST 24 (Norm Berryman 3, Jamie Wilson, Nathan Jordan tries; Wenden Riley and Marcus Arwin goals).
RESERVE GRADE: LOWER CLARENCE 28 (Jack Purcell, Barry Ah-See, Aaron Walker, Dheran Young, Lenny Anderson tries; Aaron Walker 4 goals) b TWEED COAST 22 (Norm Berryman, Jason McDowell, Nathan Devine, Chris Pearce tries; Wenden Riley 3 goals).