Orara Valley skipper left fuming
By GREG WHITE
MACLEAY Valley may have eliminated Orara Valley from the Group 2 premiership chase with a 24-20 home town victory on Saturday but for the umpteenth time this season, self-styled "controversial" referee Kirk Taylor grabbed the spotlight.
Taylor dismissed Axemen captain-coach Matt Donovan for dissent after the full-time bell and the matter should have ended there.
But in an action that had eyebrows raised, Taylor entered the Orara dressing room to deliver the paper work for the send off, only to be greeted by open hostility from the beaten players.
There were even claims he and Donovan had a further disagreement.
Many Orara supporters were left speechless by the incident pointing to a number of close 'calls' in the game that had more than a hint of doubt about them.
Like a try awarded to the Mustangs after the Orara players believe they heard a "held" cry from Taylor forcing them to release their opponent prematurely.
Even those same visiting supporters felt Adam McCarthy's action to touch down in the 38th minute was suspect, something the player later clarified.
"I was hit in a sensitive place during the tackle when I went across the line so it may have looked iffy," McCarthy said.
"But from where I was it was fair and I had the best view of anybody."
Donovan may have had his moments of disagreement with referee Taylor but had more concrete reasons for the loss than any running battle with a match official.
"When we failed to handle the ball in the first half we cut our own throat," he said graciously.
"The game could have been won toward the end when we really came home strongly but a few calls went against us and upset our rhythm."
In the victors dressing room, captain-coach Kurt Hancock was in no mood to lay claim to a perfect afternoon's work.
"Mate, we've got to sharpen up a heck of a lot more if we want to still be playing in a fortnight," he admitted.
"Defence in crucial stages is good and we fill the holes in well but we've got to get better-focussed when long periods of attack are on."
The Mustangs appeared to have real problems rotating forwards from the bench tending to rest the best performers - particularly Clint McCabe - when Orara were at their most dangerous.
But they did make one ultimately brilliant move, opting to take a shot at goal in the 19th minute when a tap close to the line was on offer.
Michael Judd's successful conversion lifted the home side to a 14-0 lead and more than two converted tries in front.
It consigned the Axemen to the mental challenge of a chasing role for the rest of the day and while the try tally finished four apiece, the damage had been done.
"We'll get a lot of experience from today," Hancock said.
"I don't care who we play at Coramba next Saturday.
"If we want a title it's a matter of playing and beating every team that puts its head up."