Big Bellingen centre Matt Bush makes a break in last year’s clash with The Thunder.
Big Bellingen centre Matt Bush makes a break in last year’s clash with The Thunder.

Magpies set for army onslaught

BELLINGER Valley-Dorrigo is at fever pitch for today’s third annual Sgt Matthew Locke MG Memorial match at Bellingen Park.

Magpies’ captain-coach Ryan O’Connor said there’d been a big buzz at training and while his New Zealand-based imports are still acclimatising and will be watching from the grandstand, the chosen squad is keyed up for action against Australian Army Thunder.

“For the half dozen new blokes on the field today, this will be an opportunity to show the supporters what they can do,” he said.

“I haven’t had to rev up the home-grown blokes too much as they know the importance of this game already, so there’s a real buzz in the air and we can’t wait to get out there.”

Interest will centre on new recruits Matt Johnson (prop), Greg Gibbins (hooker), Darren Byrne (centre), Nathan Peckham (half) and Reece Partington (five-eighth).

Representative forward Anthony Fensom was rested from the Sevens and will lock the scrums while O’Connor’s ball skills, used to devastating effect at BCU Stadium last week, will be important to the team’s chances for victory.

Thunder will be missing creative halfback, Cpl The Chad Gill, and the electrifying speed of fullback Pte Joven Clarke – much to the delight of O’Connor who watched both playmakers run riot in last season’s 22-10 loss to the visitors.

However, army coach Maj Al Lynch, promises more than capable replacements.

“We have several matches around the country in the new few weeks and have had to split the side with Chad and Joven remaining with the other squad,” he said.

“But I don’t think any of our supporters are going to be disappointed with the new faces coming into the side.”

One of their hotter prospects will be pacy Aaron Resch, a former Wests Rosellas centre and long-term fixture in the Newcastle Division representative side.

And Bellingen locals Sgt Nick Matthews and Pte Pat Inskip are back on home soil to take on their former club mates.

“The boys have been in town for most of the week and really enjoyed the school visits and getting out meeting the locals,” Lynch added.

“I urge the crowds to get out in support.”

Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo Magpies

1. Rob Farrell, 2. Andrew Casey, 3. Darren Byrne, 4. Oliver Priest, 5. Barry Taylor, 6. Reece Partington, 7. Nathan Peckham, 8. Matt Johnson, 9. Greg Gibbins, 10. Ryan O’Connor (capt.-coach), 11. Matt Freebairn, 12. Joel Cleary, 13. Anthony Fensom, 14. Peter Glyde, 15. Brendan Sandell-Hay, 16. Tom Harris, 17. Jason Griffiths, 18. Liam Sandstrom, 19. Jake Sykes.

Australian Army Thunder

1. Sgt Nick Matthews, 2. Sgt Marty McCulloch, 3. Cpl Shane Harden-Parnell, 4. Pte Mahn Darley, 5. Spr Scott Ragan, 6. Cpl Michael Hamer, 7. Pte Pat Inskip, 8. Pte Keith Eshman, 9. Cpl Glenn Robinson, 10. Cfn Aaron Resch, 11. Cfn Jesse Jenkins, 12. Sgt Cyril Silarski, 13. Cpt Ben Vitale, 14. Pte Drew Abbott, 15. Pte Kevin Ashby, 16. Lt Michael Lorrigan, 17. Cpl Paul Ferguson, 18. Lcpl Jade Bingley, 19. Pte Buddy James. Coach: Maj Al Lynch.

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