Rebels, Casino flatter to deceive in points orgy


AT times it was like a game of touch footy, at others like a scene from a Mad Max movie. The 46-42 scoreline from yesterday's opening round of South Grafton, Casino game in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League Competition suggests defence did not play a big part in the game. But appearances aren't everything. Although there were 16 tries in the game -- nine to the Rebels -- fans enjoyed some absolute bell-ringers from some of the game's big hitters. Casino began the game with their tryline under siege from repeated Rebels raids. In a scene to be repeated throughout the game South Grafton's giant prop Xavier Sullivan charged down the shortside before passing inside. A minute later centre Ken Mercy was almost over in the corner, but won a penalty as Casino fullback Tim Stark stripped the ball from him. But 10 minutes into the game it all changed when Casino ventured into South's half for the first time. A simple inside ball to Casino five-eighth Matt Roberts opened South up and he sprinted 40 metres to score. Minutes later Casino punished a poor kick from five-eighth Ray Mercy and centre Garry Roberts cashed in with a try. Casino made it three tries in six minutes when replacement Evan Hickling's brilliant chip and chase resulted in another try near the sticks. Then it was South's turn. Down 18-nil and with the fans shaking their heads in disbelief, South scored four tries before the half-time hooter and were 20-18 in front. Hooker Andy Bell showed brilliant acceleration and a good right-foot step to score South's first. A Ray Mercy special from 40 metres out took the score to 18-10, then replacement Josh Nagle popped up on the wing to finish off some good passing by Ken Mercy and backrower Colby Schrader. Ray Mercy picked up his double running hard onto an inside ball from halfback Dallas Waters. South wrapped up the game just after halftime, when they scored four more tries to open up a 40-18 lead. Ken Mercy notched a double with power running and slick footwork. Waters scored off a great inside ball from Ray Mercy and Wes Roberts finished off a brilliant attacking raid by beating two players and stretching out an arm to ground the ball. Waters injured his right shoulder scoring his try and had to leave the field. Casino made a game of it on paper with a late scoring burst but were never going to catch the Rebels. South Grafton captain coach Stevie Kirby had mixed feelings after the game. "I was really happy with the boys. We didn't panic when we went behind in the first half," he said. "Ray and Ken Mercy impressed me. Ken's fitness and some of his tackling was incredible. There was also plenty of talk between the two of them." On the downside for the Rebels was the number of breaks Casino's little men made up the middle. "Yeah. We didn't compress in the middle, or slide at the right time. That's something we've got to work on." Casino coach Cavill Heugh said his players got stage fright when up 18-nil. "I think the boys frightened themselves when they looked up and saw 18-nil on the scoreboard," he said. "Maybe they thought they'd won the game and it was all over." Heugh said the size and skills of the Mercy brothers turned the tide for the Rebels.