Coffs Rugby Crushers’ outside back Karrnunny Pearce impressed playing for the MNC Axemen Colts team on the weekend.
Coffs Rugby Crushers’ outside back Karrnunny Pearce impressed playing for the MNC Axemen Colts team on the weekend. REVOR VEALE

Good workout for Colts

MID North Coast Axemen Colts’ coach Mark Hudson has welcomed the gruelling Crescent Heads Sevens experience as the perfect rugby union preparation for Saturday week’s clash with the Far North Coast in Grafton.

Playing in a one-day tournament with $8000 in prizemoney at stake was bound to bring out the heavy guns, with 20 men’s teams coming from as far afield as Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane.

The MNC Colts ran slap-bang into the crossfire.

Nevertheless, the Colts had a commendable 26-19 win over Nelson Bay after trailing 10-0 early, with Gloucester’s spirited five-eighth Tom Middlebrook racing over for three tries, before the team’s 15-5 elimination by Wollongbar-Alstonville in a Plate semi-final.

In this game the Colts’ try was initiated by the running of Wallamba’s hefty forward Jeremy Segol, a player with ball skills and strength, but who must raise his training regime to fulfil his potential.

Port Pirates’ 18-year-old Martin Roods impressed with his pace and tackling skills and Coffs Crushers’ front rower Tim Hartmann was another to please Hudson and team manager Shane Dean.

Two more Coffs Harbour under-19 premiership team members from last season, elusive outside back Karrnunny Pearce and inside-centre Matthew Spence, the Hastings Valley Vikings pair of half Luke Chaplin and flanker Logan Marshall, and the Kempsey Cannonball trio of fullback Corey Gale, front rower Todd Giddey and lock Chris Tonks, will make the Axemen Colts formidable rivals in Grafton.

With ever-green Wallamba Bulls flanker Daniel Hessing and Forster-Tuncurry Dolphins hooker James Clarke as reinforcements, the Colts emerged with much credit against vastly more experienced opponents in the mid-30 degree heat, which was fortunately moderated by the sea breeze.

“Playing against the Newcastle representative team, which won last year’s NSW Country championship (33-0), and then a smart team from Lennox Head (44-0) in our first two qualifying games was a shock to the system,” Hudson said of the Crescent Head carnival.

“It was a torrid learning experience, but we’ll be a lot better for the match practice.

“You can’t beat it to brush up on defensive skills.”

Due to the unlimited interchange rule in Grafton, Hudson is still looking for players with a long-term view to the NSW under-20 country championship game against Illawarra in Wollongong on March 19.

The mystery of the Crescent Head day is why the MNC senior team failed to capitalise on the opportunity to field a team, with the Observer Trophy representative clash against FNC – never an easy affair – taking place in Grafton on Saturday week.

The ACT Brumbies Academy team won the Premier final from the Brisbane visitors Sunnybank, with sponsors naming Academy half Nick White player of the tournament.

Newcastle University was victorious in the women’s division, while Campbelltown claimed the Plate and Hastings Valley Vikings won the Bowl.

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