Coach's spray sparks team revival

‘GROUNDHOG Day’ was the whisper on coach Darryl Fisher’s lips after his Orara Valley side went down 26-18 to Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo in a disappointing trip to ‘the graveyard.’

Last week, the Axemen led by 10 points with 15 minutes remaining and were forced to settle for a draw with Macksville.

Yesterday, they looked in a winning position while boasting an 18-4 advantage at the break, but failed to kick ahead following the resumption.

“We lost it, that’s the truth and when Gonzo (captain Grant Douglass) went off at half time, everything went off,” Fisher said.

“It must be a mental thing without him on the field and while we sometimes lose with him out there, we never seem to win when he’s gone.”

With the lead set up and the foundations dug, Fisher admits to feeling pleased at the progress.

“At least until Gonzo went; then I got very uneasy,” he agreed.

Orara get a bye next week but the realist in Fisher pulls no punches when he says competition points from this day forward are crucial.

“Heading to the break we need to win both those games,” he said.

Bellingen’s first half was less than inspiring so when he got them into the sheds, home coach Josh White used language that hasn’t been heard since the bullockies were around.

His gee-up could be heard 30 metres away from the room and almost blistered paint from the walls

“They knew the spray was coming and I didn’t hold back,” he grinned, after the victory song had been sung.

“It’s nothing personal but you can’t pull punches; you have to tell them exactly what is killing them off and what has to be done to get out of it.”

Champion hooker Brad Hart and his younger brother David were instrumental in the Magpie revival when they began to run amuck against their old club.

Many knew the poignant significance of them simply being on the field with this week the first anniversary of the loss of their much-loved father, league legend Larry Hart.

“When the chips are down, I can rely on Bradley,” White said, looking very pleased with himself.

“He’s our leader, he controls the forwards and he’s really something special.”

White feels he got through to his troops, telling them to not lose hope and strive to get back into the game.

“It’s always in them,” he said.

“I said if we stick to what we’ve been training for, we’ll win.

“Our plan was to go to the middle, play them back on the edge and go straight through.

“It worked a treat a couple of times before they rattled us a bit but they didn’t put the foot on our heads.

“That’s what gave us a glimmer of light and fortunately, the boys were smart enough to look ahead and charge right through.”

Axemen winger Nathan Hardy played strongly and emerged favourite to join the Group 2 rep team as 18th man.

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