Magpies snatch a thrilling win
By MAX GODBEE
LOWER Clarence caused the boilover of round four of the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition, scoring their first win of the season to overcome the previously unbeaten Marist Brothers 21-20 at the Maclean Showground yesterday.
The Magpies, after trailing 4-20 early in the second half, brought up the equaliser with less than five minutes remaining, courtesy of a great try from centre Aaron Murray and conversion kick from half back Jason Wilkinson, for 20-all.
There was only 75 seconds left on the clock when Murray broke the deadlock with a neat drop goal from in front to a great roar from the large crowd of Lower Clarence supporters.
Many of those supporters had tipped a Lower Clarence upset, but they doubted the value of their prophecies when the Marist Brothers machine ran in three tries in the first 20 minutes, one each to centre Graham Smallwood, hard working second rower Kevin Walker and lock forward Luke Campbell.
Two of the tries were converted by winger Adrian Gooley and the Rams were looking like world-beaters, all over the top of Lower Clarence and leading 16-nil.
One of the Magpies' best players, winger John Thornton gave the Lower Clarence supporters some hope when he scored a try just 10 minutes before the half time siren.
He received a poor pass that missed his hands but fell on his boot and he tapped it forward, picked up and ran a few metres to score.
It was 16-4 to Brothers as the teams left the field for the break.
Things looked even blacker for the home side when speed-laden centre Niko Vakararwa crossed for Brothers' fourth try nine minutes into the second half to build the Rams' advantage to 20-4.
However that is where it stopped.
For the remainder of the game Lower Clarence were undoubtedly the better side finding uncharacteristic gaps in the Brothers' defence, particularly up the middle.
The Magpies ran in three tries to nil, two to the ever-present Murray and the other to full back Lee Everett, with two conversions from half back Jason Wilkinson to equalise.
With the local crowd right behind them, the Magpies enjoyed a dream finish to the match, courtesy of Murray's late field goal.
The fire seemed to have gone out of the Rams' game, and they put no pressure on Murray as he coolly slotted in the one pointer from 25 metres out.