Parsons shows up North Coast weaknesses
By MITCHELL DALE
Northern Division 52 North Coast Division 20
NORTH Coast have been given plenty to think about ahead the NSW Country Rugby League Championships after being pummelled by a Matt Parsons-inspired Northern Division in Tamworth on Saturday.
North Coast, which featured 11 Group 2 players, were dominated up-front in the divisional trial, giving their talented backline little chance to showcase its skill.
Parsons, who retired from the NRL last year, gave North Coast a taste of what to expect when they meet Central Coast at Tuncurry in round one of the Country Championships on May 14.
Parson popped an astounding 21 offloads during the match, with five resulting in tries to Northern Division.
North Coast coach Mark Morrison conceded the match exposed a number of weaknesses in his outfit.
He also hinted that officials may now request the services of the division's more experienced players to counter a Central Coast side that will be littered with Jim Beam Cup players this year.
"They physically dominated us in the pack," Morrison said.
"We had three forwards ? Lee Harvey (asthma attack), Aaron Considine (broken nose) and Martin Taylor (cramps) ? injured early, so that could be an excuse.
"But maybe they were just better. Sometimes you have to face facts and they were definitely better than us on the day, but that is not to say they will be better if we meet them in four weeks' time."
However, Morrison added that a number of Northern Division's tries were opportunistic.
"The scoreline wasn't good, but they scored 18 points that were from freaky things," he said.
"One try, they went for a 40-20, it hit one of our blokes in the head and bounced into the hands of one of their players.
"But, having said that, we just didn't complete our sets and as a result we paid the price.
"One of my favourite things is to ask questions (of opponent's defence) at the line, but we didn't have enough ball to do that.
"People say blokes like Dave Pickvance, Joel Asher and Neville Donovan didn't play well, but they couldn't because our pack didn't go forward."
As well as the injuries to Harvey, Taylor and Considine, North Coast captain Bert Gray, playing five-eighth in place of the injured Willie Baker, rolled his ankle during the match.
The news was much more positive for North Coast Under-18s, who defeated Northern Division 38-36.
Nambucca Heads halfback Greg Nichols, who was a late inclusion after missing the Group 2 v Group 3 match with injury, starred for North Coast.