Nifty Nev shows off his magic
GROUP 2 56
GROUP 3 18
By MITCHELL DALE
APART from a few grey hairs breaking through on the side of his head, Macksville halfback Neville Donovan shows few signs he is approaching the big three zero.
Certainly not on the football field, where Donovan is producing enough magic to have fans thinking he is closer to 20 than 30.
Donovan was at his best at Macksville on Saturday, guiding Group 2 to a 56-18 humbling of Group 3 in the annual North Coast representative match.
For 65 minutes. Donovan tormented Group 3 with a near-perfect kicking display, deft passing and agile footwork before coach Mark Morrison gave him a well-earned breather in the final 15 minutes.
Donovan, who turns 30 later this year, hinted 2005 would be his last season.
If it is, he wants to go out with a bang.
The plucky number seven has definitely started what could be his swansong season the right way with Macksville and Group 2.
Donovan was an obvious selection for the North Coast halfback spot after his dominant display and was one of 10 Group 2 players in the North Coast starting 13.
Incredibly, it is the first time Donovan has been selected for North Coast in over a decade.
"I was 19 when I last played for North Coast," Donovan said after his virtuoso display.
"This is probably going to be my last season, so I want to make it a good one. I'm pretty happy with my game, I'll just keep slowly plugging away."
The nippy half was anything but slow on Saturday, laying on a number of tries and scoring himself as Group 2 completely overpowered their southern rivals.
Group 2 led 28-12 at halftime and had extended their advantage to 46-12 after 15 minutes of the second half.
Then the foot went off the gas and dropped ball marred the remainder of the match.
"The first half was magic, I think we only put down three balls and Nev (Donovan) produced two brilliant 40-20 kicks, even though they only counted one," coach Morrison says.
"At half-time I asked the players to go out and expend all the energy they had in the first 15 minutes of the second half. They did that and then played on wasted time."
The enormity of the win surprised most, including Donovan and Group 2 skipper Bert Gray.
"Yeah, it did surprise me, I was confident we would win, but didn't think it would be by that much," Donovan said.
The day was a double celebration for Gray, who was given the news he would lead the side onto the field when he arrived at the game.
He then produced a strong performance, bagging two tries.
GROUP 2 56 (Dave Pickvance 2, Ryan Walker 2, Bert Gray 2, Nathan Davies, Neville Donovan, Joel Asher, Tristan Hamilton-Giggins tries; Cameron Blair 7, Donovan goals) GROUP 3 18 (Ben Cross, Jeremy Beasley, Brett Fraser tries, Dean Anderson 3 goals).