By DAVE MORRISON
THE Grafton Jacaranda Hotel Redmen opened their pre-season preparations in impressive style with an emphatic 19-0 whitewash of Mid North Coast semi-finalists from 2004, the Hastings Valley Vikings at Port Macquarie on Saturday.
The road trip for an 80-minute hit out was a tough firstup assignment for a largely new-look Redmen outfit, but coach Gary Powell came home more than pleased with the style of the win as much as the score line.
The three-try-to-nil victory was highlighted by consistently dominant front-on defence, especially from a revamped backline that was trying to find its way as a new combination.
Fitness, at this early stage, was another pleasing feature, with Grafton having plenty in the tank at the end, despite coming up against a home side with a far bigger reserves bench.
Marcus Chad, Tyson Donohue and Craig Daley all impressed in mid field and look like giving Powell plenty of options this year while Sean Austin stepped up to the mark at prop.
Grafton now have a break until taking on Yamba, Coffs Harbour and Inverell in a four-way trial at Yamba in a fortnight, as preparations for a big season opening and Clubhouse opening on April 2 con- tinue.
nSYDNEY. ? Wallaby centres Nathan Grey and Morgan Turinui have been recalled to a rejigged NSW team for Saturday's Super 12 rugby clash with the Cats in Johannesburg.
Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie has switched Shaun Berne to five-eighth after Lachlan MacKay returned home to Sydney after suffering rib cartilage damage in last weekend's win over the Sharks in Durban.
McKenzie opted to move Berne from inside centre to five-eighth rather than start with Tim Donnelly who flew over to replace MacKay, and chose veteran Grey in the number 12 shirt.
Turinui returned to outside centre in place of Ben Jacobs, who deputised for him last week when he was forced out of the match with a stomach virus.
In the only other change to the starting lineup, vice-captain and flanker Phil Waugh regained his spot from Rocky Elsom after returning from the International Rugby Board Rugby Aid game.
McKenzie said he had tried to keep the changes to a minimum.
"Bringing Nathan in and moving Shaun to flyhalf is virtually a seamless transition heading into the game," McKenzie said.
"The same can be said about the return of Phil Waugh."