Long road to victory
EVERY road has a turning and Orara Valley's long journey toward that elusive first win of the Group 2 season ended yesterday at Bellingen Park.
They defeated Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 36-8, leaving the Magpies shattered and the Axemen faithful overjoyed.
“A total shock to the system,” Bellingen captain-coach Ryan O'Connor said.
“I'm not surprised it happened as we went into the game with the wrong attitude.
“Orara wanted to win more than us, worked hard and defended really well and I take my hat off to them.”
For Valley co-coaches Grant Douglass and Paul Tomlinson, their maiden victory took a long time to arrive but it felt like they'd won a grand final.
“There's always some solace in adversity,” Douglass said.
“This is just reward for a gutsy mob who could easily have turned it up when we said that we couldn't afford to pay players this year.
“Winning is great but it's also a test of characters and these blokes – especially the younger kids – have all passed with flying colours.”
Rival coaches have often praised the team but the reason for their record is simple.
“We old veterans know what to do but the youngsters play on adrenalin and ability but lack experience and can make mistakes at the back end of matches,” Douglass said.
“That's part of the learning curve and as they improve, you'll see them in premiership contention in the years ahead.
“Blokes like Ryan Hall, Nick Lihou, the Few boys and the rest keep getting better and better and will be household names in time. Tommo and I are so proud.'