Orara no one trick pony
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
THE magic was there. A chip and chase try from Brett Davis, a 40-20 kick from Brad Hart and a couple of deft passes from Ben McCarthy to send brother Adam over the line twice.
But you don't get to be undefeated and on top of the table if you're only a one trick pony.
When it comes time to muscle up and really put the pressure on the opposition, Orara Valley can stand up with the best of them.
Yesterday, the Axemen constantly cut down the time and space of Woolgoolga's dangermen and no-one was happier than captain-coach Brad Hart about the defensive effort.
"In the first 15 minutes we thought defensively if we got up in their face and stuck it into them a bit, we'd wear them down and we'd end up opening the floodgates in the last 15 or 20, which is what happened," he said.
"They sort of played it pretty straight up and down, they got a bit lost out there for a while and it came down to our defence really just putting the pressure on them."
The floodgates may have opened up at the end of the match, but it was 20 minutes into the game that the heavens opened up.
The score was all tied up at that stage and many thought the wet conditions would better suit the Woolgoolga style of hard yards and completed sets compared to the perceived all razzle dazzle game of the table leaders.
How wrong the bystander can be.
"We didn't close up shop when the rain came, sides think that we're going to do that but we're not," Hart said.
"We've still got a style of play that we want to play and we're confident that we can play it.
"It showed in the second half that we can, whether it's wet or not."
From the time the rain came down, the Axemen reigned supreme. And leading the Orara orchestra like the maestro he can be was Brad Hart.
A dummy half burst down the blind side to crash over the line put his side in front.
After half time when the Seahorses were trying to mount a revival it was a 40-20 kick from Hart that broke the back of the Seahorses.
Immediately from the resultant scrum, Ben McCarthy set up Matt Smith and the horse had bolted.
Granted, Woolgoolga were their own worst enemy. If you go to the library today and you're trying to find a book on how to drop the ball, go straight to the W's because Woolgoolga wrote the book on it yesterday.
"The coach spilled a ball there and they scored so I can't be too critical," Woolgoolga's playing coach John Cross said
"It got slippery when it rained a bit and they handled it better than what we did and in the end I think that was the difference."
While a lot of praise has been heaped on the performances of Woolgoolga's props, yesterday it was the back-rowers who were the most impressive.
Coughing up so much ball, the Seahorses were forced to do a lot of defending and it was Craig McVey, Grant Vines and Lee Borland who were working hard for the cause right to the end.
All three players are fighting well above their respective weight divisions but never shirk an issue when most would.
"The whole back three are small but they give us a lot of mobility," Cross said.
"When you complete sets it doesn't hurt you because they come into their own.
"But when you cough up a lot of ball they start to get a bit tired the little fellas and a good big bloke will always beat a little bloke in the end."
Cross is a man who has no illusions of grandeur about his team. He knows that Woolgoolga are an honest team that give 100 per cent each week and when given an opportunity to get some magic from the halves combination of Arthur Murray and Dave Toomey, can actually carve up a side.
Fact is though they have now been comfortably beaten twice by Orara Valley this season.
That doesn't mean Cross thinks his team's no show for the title.
"The good thing about footy is that you've only got beat them once if they have an off day in the grand final." he warned.
ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 34 (Adam McCarthy 2, Brad Hart, Brett Davis, Dave Smith, Matt Donovan tries; Scott Lacey 4, Adam McCarthy goals) d WOOLGOOLGA SEAHORSES 6 (Matt Smith try; Arthur Murray goal)
Scrums: Orara Valley 11-8.
Penalties: Woolgoolga 6-3.
Errors: Woolgoolga 19-16.
Best Players: Orara Valley - Brad Hart, Ben McCarthy, Scott Lacey. Woolgoolga - Craig McVey, Matt Grayson, Michael Jeffrey.
Reserve Grade: Orara Valley 20-18.
Under 18s: Woolgoolga 44-12.