By MITCHELL DALE
THE USA Tomahawks had plenty of stripes but very few stars on the field when they were trounced 56-6 by Coast-Valley Allstars in the Australia Day rugby league clash at International Stadium.
Players from four Coffs Coast clubs ? Sawtell, Orara Valley, Coffs Harbour and Woolgoolga ? combined to punish the Tomahawks both physically and on the scoreboard in a brutal performance.
Adding injury to insult, the Emerging Tomahawks will head north to complete their down-under tour carrying a number of bruised and battered bodies.
The visitors lost star skipper Ian Blake on the stroke of quarter time when the game was in the balance at 6-all.
Blake wasn't the only USA casualty, with a number of Tomahawks needing medical assistance during and after the match, but his absence had the biggest affect on the tourists.
Although the tourists fielded five players from the side that almost upset Australia last year, they self-destructed without their on-field leader.
Coast-Valley crossed three times in the second quarter to lead 22-6 at half time, with Coffs Comets centre Darren Blackett crossing for three first-half tries.
Blackett answered critics of his selection in the run-on side in emphatic style, cashing in on strong lead-up work by his team mates to eventually bag four tries for the night in an impressive display.
After the match, Blackett admitted he was under pressure to perform after questions were raised over his place in the side.
"Jock (Moore, Coast-Valley coach) had a word to me before the game and said he was under pressure to put me in the game," Blackett said.
"It made me feel like I had to lift a bit out there.
"The boys did the hard work and took the ball forward, I just made sure I was supporting them."
Considering some of the Coast-Valley players met for the first time in dressing sheds before kick-off, the side clicked remarkably well.
With experienced Sawtell duo Craig Wallace and Kris Watson firing and Woolgoolga half Arthur Murray creating mischief around the centre of the ruck, the Allstars were in complete control after quarter-time.
"I thought our second 40 minutes was a lot better once the boys got to know each other a bit," Moore said.
"Three of them couldn't make either of our training sessions, but they all gelled together really well. Their ball-skills were good and the whole squad came together as one, I didn't have to do much at all.
"I was happy with all players, one through to 20."
Moore also used the result as a message to Group 2 selectors.
"Maybe the Group 2 selectors should have had a bit of a look to see what we can do up this end of the street," he said.
COAST-VALLEY ALLSTARS 56 (Darren Blackett 4, Craig Wallace 2, Dave Whylie, Ross Hunter, Arthur Murray, Brant O'Dea tries; Nathan Davies 6, Damien Irvine, Arthur Murray goals) USA EMERGING TOMAHAWKS 6.