You're joking Bellingen
By MITCHELL DALE
ORARA VALLEY 58 d BELLINGEN 12 (first and reserve grade combined score)
ORARA Valley president Kevin Elks labelled his club's final VB Group 2 rugby league trial against Bellingen yesterday as 'a joke' after the Magpies could only field one full squad for first and reserve grade.
Both matches only lasted 40 minutes, with the Axemen comfortably winning the two halves without raising a sweat.
Bellingen officials claim the problem was a one-off occurrence, with around a dozen players unavailable for various reasons.
But Elks was far from happy.
The Axemen were desperate to build on last weekend's strong trial win over Sawtell, but Elks said yesterday's match offered very little.
"When Bellingen only turned up with about 15 seniors, none of our blokes wanted to play," Elks fired.
"It was a joke to be honest ... I was disappointed.
"It was an official Group 2 trial and was the last hit-out for both clubs before the start of the season.
"They had about 10 blokes out because of a wedding, but it would have been good if they notified us about it earlier.
"If we would have known about it sooner we could have shifted the game to Saturday.
"It was a non-event and the players only risked injury.
"In the end I was just glad to get out of there early and watch the (NRL) footy on TV."
One of the few bright spots to come from the match, according to Elks, was the continued good form of teenage fullback Ryan Walker.
"Ryan has been outstanding in all our trials and, although I am not a selector, I would say his fullback spot is pretty safe for the start of the season," Elks said.
"Adam McCarthy also went well and so did Adam Clarke, who has come down from Marist Brothers (in Group 1)."
Bellingen manager Matthew Nolan said the Magpies will have plenty of numbers once the season starts.
"We're fine, we just had a bad day with a lot of blokes unavailable," Nolan said.
"We are looking pretty good actually, we have had a few more players turn up recently and have a couple more forwards coming. We would have loved to have more numbers (available) and play a bit longer.
"But there was nothing we could do."