Rookie clips Magpie wings on trip North
By ADAM WRATTEN
ROOKIE Matt Nuttal was thrown in at the deep end and came up trumps yesterday helping South Tweed to a comfortable 42-22 win against Lower Clarence at Dave Burns Field.
The talented 17-year-old halfback scored one try and provided plenty of problems for the Lower Clarence defence with his kicking game and attacking flair.
He only found out he was making his starting debut for the team yesterday morning after regular halfback Lee Hicks was forced to pull out with a hand injury.
South Tweed coach Brock Mathers said he had no concerns about playing the youngster, who has made several appearances off the bench this year.
"He's a great talent," Mathers said after the game.
"He's got a good head on him and he could go along way."
Nuttal, who has been at the club 12 years, said while he was nervous shortly before kick-off, the worries quickly disappeared once the action began and he was able to focus on the game.
"I think I went ok and all the boys looked after me out there," Nuttal said.
"At one stage someone grabbed me by the collar and straight away there were three of our four guys there to help me out."
South Tweed's forwards dominated, while winger Thomas Philips ran in three tries.
Lower Clarence, who had won its last three games including a victory against Marist Brothers, took an early lead in the fourth minute.
But Chris Humphries quickly had the Koalas on the board four minutes later after good team work by the Koalas to keep the ball alive.
Nuttal added the second, before scores to Doug Slockee, Philips (2) and Ricki Conti put the Koalas 26-6 up by half-time.
In the second stanza Reece Sandey and Philips scored.
Kane Stannard was their other scorer, while Jason Wilkinson and Mitch West (2) scored for Lower Clarence.
SOUTH TWEED 42 (Tries, J Philips (3), R Sandey, C Humphries, M Nuttal, K Stannard, R Conti; C Humphries 5 goals) d LOWER CLARENCE 22 (Tries, M West (2), D Blackett, J Wilkinson; Wilkinson 3 goals). RESERVE: South Tweed 54 d Lower Clarence 10. UNDER-18: Lower Clarence 44 d South Tweed 22.