Magpies scramble to beat the Koalas
By Bob Anthony
Tweed Daily News
AN injury-hit South Tweed put up a courageous effort yesterday but couldn't crawl back a substantial half-time deficit going down to Lower Clarence 28-22 in their Northern Rivers regional Rugby League game at the Dave Bursn Field, South Tweed Heads yesterday.
And news for the Koalas doesn't get any better with workhorse second rower Chris Sommerville stretchered from the field with a leg injury mid-way through the second half.
South Tweed have been battling for fit forwards and Lower Clarence took advantage of that using their big men to 'steamroll' the locals to set up a commanding 22-4 half time lead.
Led by captain/coach Jason Wilkinson, Lower Clarence continually tested the measure of South Tweed who had opened the scoring through Ricky Moana to have the home side up 4-nil.
Lower Clarence levelled through Damien Randell to lock the game up at 4-all and it wasn't until a barging run from prop Wayne Reid that the visitors were able to open up a lead when Wilkinson converted.
Lower lead 10-4 and capitalised on some poor handling by South Tweed to exert more pressure on the Koalas with Aaron Murray scoring which was again converted by Wilkinson.
The visitors were up 16-4 and when Wilkinson touched down under the crossbar right on half time and then converted his own try, Lower Clarence were in control 22-4 going to the break.
South Tweed coach Matt Manning said he didn't say anything at first to his players at half time, he let the silence 'do the talking'.
"We didn't test Lower Clarence at all and when we did run at them, it was up the middle which didn't make it hard for them to defend," Manning said.
A brilliant solo effort by South Tweed's centre John Keating in the 45th minute gave the locals hope and the when the try was converted by Chris Humphries, the Koalas were back in the game at 22-10.
However Manning was wondering if he should pull on the boots when Lower Clarence extended its lead 13 minutes into the second half again through Wilkinson to extend the lead out to 28-10.
South Tweed's ball control and lack of patience was proving costly, especially in their scoring opportunities.
The larger Lower Clarence forwards continued to pound their smaller but plucky opponents for much of the second half, squandering several scoring chances to shut the game down.
In a true show of character, South Tweed staged a major fightback thanks to two quick tries in three minutes to five-eighth Doug Slockee in the final five minutes.
Both tries were converted and it looked as though an unbelievable draw might be on the cards.
But it was too little too late for South Tweed and when they lost control of the ball with about one minute left on the clock, the game was lost.
Manning was pleased with his players' courage but rued the lack of patience in their plays and not sticking to the game plan.
In reserve grade, South Tweed posted a convincing 48-12 win while Lower Clarence shocked the South Tweed Under-18s 34-12.
LOWER CLARENCE 28. Tries: Jason Wilkinson 2, Damien Randall, Wayne Reid, Aaron Murray. Goals: Jason Wilkinson 4 d SOUTH TWEED 22. Tries: Doug Slockee 2, Ricky Moana, John Keating. Goals: Chris Humphries 3
Reserve grade: SOUTH TWEED 48 d LOWER CLARENCE 12.
Under-18: LOWER CLARENCE 34 d SOUTH TWEED 12.