By TONY WHITE
OUT of work tomato picker Craig Thurston scored five tries as the Cudgen Hornets plucked the Lower Clarence Magpies 54-12 at Maclean Showground yesterday.
Thurston, 24, in his first season with Cudgen since arriving from St George (Queensland), switched from fullback to five-eighth and had an outstanding game with his elusiveness and blinding speed off the mark.
"I'm really enjoying my football," Thurston said. "I appreciated being closer to the action at five-eighth."
Another out-of-position player, Brian McCarthy, who switched from second row to centre, also tore the Magpies apart with deft running and some brilliant short balls to supports.
Lower Clarence, who defeated Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League leaders Murwillumbah last week, were most disappointing.
After a bright start, Lower leading 6-nil after 15 minutes, the Magpies intensity dropped off in the latter stages of the first half, Cudgen racing in three unanswered tries to lead 18-6 at the break.
"We lack consistency week in week out," lamented Magpies captain-coach Jason Hebbard.
"Our completion rate again let us down. Full credit to Cudgen they played very well."
Hebbard came off in the second half with a recurrence of his shoulder problem, but worst news for the Magpies was star half-five-eighth, Jason Wilkinson, suffering medial ligament damage to his knee after being hurt attempting a tackle.
Cudgen hooker Nick Mobbs kicked all nine conversions and team mates, props Damien Bryant and second-rower Andrew Hamilton also enjoyed great games for the Hornets.
"We had six first graders missing and after last week's loss to Casino, I'm very proud of the way the boys stood up to be counted," Cudgen coach Jamie Mathiou said.
Best for the Magpies were fullback Aaron Murray, centre Darren Blackett, prop Mick Harris and Wilkinson until he was injured.