Referee takes mercy on Woopi



CONCERN for player safety forced referee Nathan Grace to abandon yesterday's Carlton Mid Group 2 contest at Woolgoolga Sports Reserve with 13 minutes remaining.

Orara Valley were leading the Seahorses 40-18 when Grace made his fateful decision, effectively awarding the match by default to the Axemen.

A thunderstorm began as players returned after the half-time break and with light fading and the rain and lightning becoming more violent, Orara coach Darryl Fisher made tentative enquiries from home club officials as to the procedure if conditions became untenable.

"It was common sense," Seahorses president Chris Hughes said.

"You can't mess with the safety of patrons and supporters."

An authoritive Orara forward pack had caused a major surprise by dominating proceedings leading up to the break.

Matt Donovan gave the visitors a big advantage by scoring from a chip over the defensive line, first tackle after a scrum win.

Woolgoolga hit back immediately to trail by four points as intermission drew near but then made a calamitous blunder as the bell sounded from the sideline.

Attacking the Orara line, second-rower Adam Close lofted a kick toward Nic Corban who broke through the defensive cordon before streaking away to the opposite end.

"That mistake hurt us terribly," Seahorses secretary Paul Dwyer said, "and with the storm making conditions so unpleasant in the second half, we were always in catch- up."

"We took some awfully dumb options and failed to control the football."

But while the home side were swallowing their disappointment, winning captain-coach Darryl Fisher was all smiles at the weekly improvement in his charges.

"Slowly but surely the cohesion is coming together and will continue to grow," he said.

"They're still on an upward learning curve and wait untill the second round to see what they can do."

Fisher again paid credit to 'the old fellas', Davis and Donovan, who again were brilliant in the judgement they showed and the chaos they wrought upon Woolgoolga.

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