A 60-8 score-line blow-out and a four-try haul to Hughie Stanley could not disguise another incomplete Lower Clarence Magpies performance against a struggling Evans Head at Stan Payne Oval last weekend.
In another familiar story of two halves, the Magpies players battled their way through inconsistency and ill-discipline to maintain a slender 16-8 lead over Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League (NRRRL) cellar dwellers, the Evans Head Bombers, at the end of the first half.
However, a frustrated half-time pep talk from Magpies coach Dallas Waters kicked the squad into life and 44 points later had strolled to an apparently emphatic victory over a tired and wilting Evans Head.
“My message at half-time was to keep our discipline, make sure we were patient and we'll get a sniff of tries,” he said.
“We expected them to be big, tough boys in the forward pack.
“But they had played two games in five days and we were quite fresh and once that set in we scored some tries.”
In a starring role in the centres, Stanley seemed to score tries at will, profiting from the second half-revitalised Magpies.
Firing on all fronts, the Magpies attacking machine did not rely solely on its backline, with tries scored from all over the park highlighted by tries to forwards Scott Laffey (two) and Luke Faul.
Even the reserves were on the mark, with halfback Anthony Hickling scoring a double.
The second half may have been owned by the Magpies more creative personnel, but it was the squad's tackling maestros who continually staved off the home team in an error-riddled first half.
“In the first half Evans Head were very competitive and I think the score-line reflected as much,” Waters said.
“We gave them a few penalties and some quality ball time.
“We had to defend for some time ... and without our defence they would have certainly scored some more points.”
What made the Magpies first half defensive display even more incredible was the Bombers could only force one try while fullback Grant Brown was in the sin bin for apparent abusive language towards the officials.
Holding off wave after wave of the Bombers attacking raids, it was the Magpies defence which built the platform for the second half's onslaught of tries.
“Once we did the basic things right we piled on the points,” Waters said.
“The positives of the game was our attacked really clicked and we showed a lot of enthusiasm in defence.”
MEANWHILE, the Magpies lower grades have pulled off a trifecta of victories for the club, with reserve grade downing the Bombers 34-24 and the under-18s upsetting the competition leaders to climb from 14 points behind to win 16-14.
FIRST GRADE: LOWER CLARENCE MAGPIES 60 (DJ Eamens, Michael Randall, Luke Faul, Scott Laffey 2, Anthony Hickling 2, Hughie Stanley 4 tries; Grant Brown 8 conversions) d EVANS HEAD BOMBERS 8.
RESERVE GRADE: LOWER CLARENCE MAGPIES 34 d EVANS HEAD BOMBERS 24
UNDER-18S: LOWER CLARENCE MAGPIES 16 d EVANS HEAD BOMBERS 14