Not even the return of recruit Xavier Sullivan (left) could help the Magpies avoid a drubbing against Northern United on Saturday.
Not even the return of recruit Xavier Sullivan (left) could help the Magpies avoid a drubbing against Northern United on Saturday. Debrah Novak

Northern raiders monster Magpies

THE injection of club stalwart Dallas Walters and hard-running skipper Xavier Sullivan into the Lower Clarence first-grade line-up couldn’t save the home side from a 46-4 drubbing at the hands of Northern United on Saturday.

The stage was set for a bumper afternoon with Maclean Showground in mint condition, perfect weather and a good-sized and good-humoured home crowd on hand to watch a bumper afternoon of rugby league.

But the Magpies just couldn’t give the crowd what they really wanted; a pre-season win and some hope that last year’s wooden-spooners had turned a corner before the competition proper commences in two weeks.

As it stands they have slumped to back-to-back losses.

Seeing both Walters and Sullivan limbering up didn’t keep Lower Clarence supporters happy for long.

It took just 10 seconds for Northern United to score their first try. This after they had kicked off.

A 30-metre kick, an awkward bounce for the home side, and quick hands from the Dirawongs sent the ball wide to powerful winger Jerry Byres who bustled his way over for the first of his two tries for the day.

That was the beginning of the end for the home side with the Dirawongs never letting up.

Despite a concerted effort from Lower Clarence it just looked all too easy for the visitors who were clearly enjoying their footy.

In contrast the Magpies’ effort was plodding.

Sullivan left his teammates in no doubt about how he felt with a blistering post-match address, declaring the effort wasn’t good enough and more pride, guts and resolve would be needed for the upcoming season or it would be a long one for the home side.

“There is no excuses, we were lucky it was only 30 minutes each way,” coach Ricky Binge said.

“We made it hard for ourselves. We were flat at the start and it went through the whole hour of footy.

“We were too one-out, we showed that today. Any reserve grade side could have defended against us today. We didn’t have much to mix.

“We train for structure but we just haven’t been getting it out on the paddock.

“We have to work on getting a bit more confidence in our attack.

“Dan Randall was not playing today and he is probably our main centre. If we can get him things will get going.”

Despite the loss, Binge was pleased that Sullivan had emerged unscathed after recovering from a hamstring injury while Walters impressed in his return to the playing ranks.

Walters enjoyed only limited time on the paddock in his return to the playing field after a taking a year off to concentrate on coaching but is expected to increase his involvement as the season progresses.

“My body feels good and my mind is willing,” Walters said.

“I’ve been around training and the enthusiasm of the boys rubbed off on me.”

Binge said Sullivan and Walters would be called upon to anchor and motivate the side during the year ahead.

“We have a lot to work with and a lot of work to do,” he said.

Lower Clarence will tackle premiers Grafton Ghosts, at McGuren Park in two weeks.


First Grade: Northern United 46

(Tries: J Roberts, J Byres 2, R bell, D Fernando, L Roberts, J Ben 2, C Chubby. Goals: R Bell 4, G Brown) d. Lower Clarence 4 (Tries: J Brekenridge).

Reserve Grade: Northern United 16 d. Lower Clarence 14

First Grade: Grafton Ghosts 20 (Tries: T Munro, D Roberts, R Walters, A Surd. Goals: A Taylor) d. Casino 6 (Tries: B Hossih, Goals: B Hossih)

Reserve Grade: Grafton Ghosts 20 draw Casino 20.

First Grade: Grafton Rhinos 28 (Tries: A Martin, J Ravueta 3, R Gordan. Goals; D Sandalhan 3, A Martin) d. Evans Head 12 (Tries: A Robinson, T Kelly, J Cook)

Reserve Grade: Evans Head Bombers 30 d. Grafton Rhinos 22

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