Halfback Hoskins stars in debut for Orara Axemen
FROM the moment he was appointed co-coach of Orara Valley, former champion halfback Matt Bye searched high and low for a cagey No.7 to drive the Axemen around the paddock.
For the first six rounds, on-field coaching partner Chris Shears held the fort with moderate success.
But the fans at Coramba will be singing the praises of former Coffs Rugby recruit Adrian 'AJ' Hoskins who made his debut at half today.
It took less than three minutes for the former NSW junior rugby representative to stamp his class on the match with a weaving run from the quarter that set up the first of two tries scored by Shears in Orara's 52-12 romp against Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo.
Hoskins went on to touch down for a double himself and had a hand in a further five or six, bringing a smile to the usually stoic countenance of Bye.
"AJ made a difference and gave us a lot more direction," he said.
"Just the same it's still early days and he's still learning with the other blokes.
"While it was good to finally win a match, there were still a lot of mistakes out there.
"The attack was pretty good and we were good in patches but if we want to really put some wins together, the execution needs to be a whole lot better."
The Axemen raced across four times in the opening 20 minutes and a whitewash threatened.
Bellingen found some rhythm and posted back-to-back tries that showed promise of better things but by the time Hoskins had crossed twice leading to the break, the outcome was as good as decided.
Orara scored four more times in the second half to round out the day.
Another loss means the Magpies remain the only side still to record a victory this season.
The sad truth is it shouldn't have to be that way.
Bellingen have a match winner in Matt Bush and are forced to use him as a battering ram.
Unless the players start getting to training and rehearse under coach Maurie Hulbert, they'll fall short of their true potential.
"I gave those three under-18s the choice of going back to juniors so they wouldn't get flogged every week but to their credit, they decided to stay," he said.
"But they'll be wasted if the other blokes don't improve their fitness and practise the moves at training.
"Every time we look to be heading somewhere in a game, a bloke goes down injured or the move breaks down.
"I'm challenging them all to go that extra bit further if they want to really start stringing some wins together.
"We may not be the best team in Group 2 but we deserve to do a lot better."
Meanwhile, Bye and Shears have finally got to sing the victory song and have been joined by another old face.
Veteran Rod Evans made his first top grade appearance since 2008 and was a dynamic force on the field.
His experienced linked to the other comeback kid, Paul Tomlinson, has suddenly put smiles back on the faces of the diehards at Coramba "Coliseum."
ORARA VALLEY AXEMEN 52 (Chris Shears 2, Rod Evans 2, Aliks Davis 2, Adrian Hoskins 2, Paul Tomlinson, Tyson Morris tries; Josh Few 6 goals) def BELLINGER VALLEY-DORRIGO MAGPIES 12 (Wheturangi Uatea, Angus Campbell tries; Dylan Edwards 2 goals)
Penalties: Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 9-6
Errors: Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 13, Orara Valley 7
Referee: Jason Townley
Nambucca Heads Roosters d Coffs Harbour Comets 36-30
Sawtell Panthers d Macleay Valley Mustangs 52-22
Woolgoolga Seahorses d Macksville Sea Eagles 24-18
Points: Coffs Harbour 12, Macksville 10, Nambucca Heads 10, Sawtell 8, Macleay Valley 6, Woolgoolga 6, Orara Valley 2, Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 0
Nambucca Heads d Coffs Harbour 34-22
Sawtell d Macleay Valley 38-16
Orara Valley 40 Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 40-16
Macksville d Woolgoolga 30-10
Points: Macksville 14, Sawtell 10, Macleay Valley 8, Coffs Harbour 6, Woolgoolga 6, Nambucca Heads 6, Orara Valley 4, Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 0
Nambucca Heads bye
Macleay Valley d Sawtell 26-22
Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo d Orara Valley 46-10
Macksville d Woolgoolga 44-6
Points: Macksville 13, Macleay Valley 11, Nambucca Heads 10, Sawtell 6, Woolgoolga 6, Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo 6, Orara Valley 2