The Australian Army Thunder is defending a winning streak when it meets a Group 2 Barbarians team at Bellingen Park this evening in the annual Sgt Matthew Locke MG Charity Event.
The Australian Army Thunder is defending a winning streak when it meets a Group 2 Barbarians team at Bellingen Park this evening in the annual Sgt Matthew Locke MG Charity Event. Brad Greenshields

It's more than a game

IT'S time for the winning streak to be broken.

The annual rugby league clash between Bellingen Valley-Dorrigo and the visiting Australian Army Thunder has become the domain of the Army team.

The Magpies claimed a memorable win when the teams first met 10 years ago to honour the memory of Sgt Matthew Locke MG, but since then it's been the Thunder every time.

This year the home team is going to be stronger as it will be a Group 2 Barbarians, which has brought in some help for the Magpies from other clubs.

The annual event is the only occasion each year the Army Thunder plays a civilian team.

It's more than just a rugby league match though.

In the decade since the first match, the event has raised more than $120,000 for veteran support service provider Soldier On, the Grub Club and other local organisations.

The event, which starts at 1pm, is a way for locals to remember Bellingen-born Sgt Locke, who was a distinguished Australian soldier who served in the Special Air Service Regiment in Afghanistan.

In 2006 he was awarded the Medal for Gallantry - the third-highest award in the Australian honours system - after he and another SAS soldier, greatly outnumbered by the enemy, dodged volleys of gunfire to neutralise an attack on an SAS observation post.

His distinguished military career was tragically cut short the next year when he was shot in the chest by Taliban fighters during an operation.

SGT MATTHEW LOCKE MG CHARITY EVENT
Today's matches
6pm: Group 2 Barbarians v Australian Army Thunder
5.30pm: Australian Army Band performs
4pm: Navy Tridents v South Grafton
2.30pm: Under-18s - Bellingen v South Grafton
1pm: Ladies Tag - Bellingen v South Grafton



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