The Lower Clarence Magpies were magnificent in their debut outing for season 2018. They recorded a last minute win over Casino at the Yamba complex last Saturday afternoon.
Ryan Binge came from cricket obligations earlier that day and claimed a hat trick (of tries) to be one of the best players for the Magpies. Hughie Stanley showed his class and leadership while ever he was on the field. While his kicking game may have been ordinary his pass selection was superb and once his teammates learn to run off him there will be tries aplenty. He scored under the posts in the final seconds of the game to bring us home.
Magpies ran into a strong wind in the first of three 25min stanzas. At the first break they were down 22-4 and the crowd murmurings were ‘here we go again’ and we will get rolled as the game progresses. Not so.
The coach came onto the field and immediately told the players to ‘lift your heads’ reminding them that the strong wind was worth 20 points and their goal line defence had been good.
It proved to be the correct call as Magpies put on 14 unanswered points in the next session and got back into the match.
The highlight for me in the third and final stanza was the fact we finished the stronger side. For once fitness was not a factor as it has been in the past. Robbie Howard (an underrated player in my opinion) was safe under the high ball in difficult conditions. Stand in hooker Nathan Essex was another of our best performers and Nick Plummer is growing into the player he can be.
At the end of the game the leadership team all had something to say. Hughie was emphatic that “changes were coming to the club” and to be on-board. Alex McMillan (who shows his experience and was outstanding in defence) reminded players that “there is a great opportunity” in front of them if they wanted it.
The coach who is known to be a bit grumpy through the week had a smile on his face and reminded players that they still have some quality players to come back into the side and urged them to be committed to training.
Next week’s trial at Yamba will be an even bigger challenge as Coffs Harbour pay us a visit.