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Magpies topple competition leaders

ABOVE: Nick Plummer tears up the sideline in front of the Bombers supporters in first grade. Image: Contributed.
In an exciting match at Yamba last Sunday, the Lower Clarence Magpies put on their best performance of the year to topple competition leaders Evans Head Bombers 40 – 28. The Magpies earned a standing ovation from the crowd at Yamba and sent shockwaves through the competition with their first win of the season. Competition leaders, the Bombers, underestimated the home team, who were unlucky to get beaten in their previous two home matches. During the week, coach Dan Randell said his team really enjoyed playing at home and promised a good performance. He led from the front with two classy tries and some tough defence and the team delivered in spades. After the match he was ecstatic. “No one else has put 40 points on this side all year, and we did,” he said. It was no fluke either as only a very thin reserves list towards the end of the game allowed Evans Head back into the game. Team manager Brendan Randell said that although he had a number of interchanges still available he only had one reserve because of the injuries suffered during the match. It was a shame that one of the better forwards, Jirrai Breckenridge, was not present on game day. Club president Darrin Herron said from day one that the Magpie forwards pack would be one of the best in the competition and Sunday’s effort backed that up. Magpies led 12-0 in as many minutes after tries to Andrew Kapeen and Nic Plummer. Evans Head showed what they could do with the ball with some crafty play around the ruck to pull back one of the tries. Then in what was probably the try of the match, Ryan Binge carried the ball forward in a 40 metre run, breaking through one tackle after another, before sending Robbie Howard in under the posts for an 18-6 lead. A few minutes later Kapeen scored his second try, as the Magpies dominated possession. Just before half time coach Randell showed his class and strength to break through tackles in a diagonal run to score adjacent to the posts. This sent the locals in with a lead of 28-6 at the break. Everyone expected the visitors to get a blast at halftime and come out full of enthusiasm in the second half, but it was the locals who went on with the job. After 15 minutes, Dan Randell scored his second try with a classy run from 30 metres out. Soon after, fullback Howard made a strong run down the left hand side to send the winger Jones over in the corner. The crowd went wild as the match looked to be all over with 36 points on the board. Evans Head, however, had other ideas and, as is often the case, a few penalties went their way. The Magpies coughed up a bit of ball as they tired and the momentum swung to the visitors. They scored some crisp tries out wide with good ball movement catching a tiring defence out of position, narrowing the lead to 36-28. The locals thought it was déjà vu, half expecting another close loss, as has been the case in earlier matches. The Magpies, however, regrouped, regained composure and slowed the pace of the game, before Kapeen put another good kick into the corner for the winger Nic Plummer to score his second try as the siren went. A quick poll on the hill after the match showed that the best players on the day were Dan Randell, Ryan Binge and Alex McMillan. Their experience and options came to the fore as the side had one of the best wins for many seasons. It couldn’t have been a better present for club stalwart John Brown, who celebrated his 70th birthday. Now the Magpies have turned the corner, they have to take this form on the road to Lismore for their next game.