Magpies swoop to beat Panthers
AFTER weeks of battling a shocking run of injuries and more than their fair share of bad luck, the sun finally shone on Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo yesterday at Rex Hardaker Oval when they scored a stunning 42-40 upset over Sawtell.
With 20 minutes remaining it looked likely the Panthers had finally gained supremacy over their plucky visitors.
Mark Pledger and Craig Wallace raced across to put a 12-point buffer into the score line but instead of dropping their heads and going backwards in retreat, the Magpies found something within themselves for one last effort and stole a match that re-ignites their fading semi finals aspirations.
“The cold hard reality of what we still face to make the playoffs will sink in on Tuesday night at training but for now, that's really something to celebrate,” winning captain-coach Troy Robinson said.
“Any other time we'd attempt a comeback but not keep going when we see a bit of daylight.
“On this occasion we kept our heads up and said 'we are better than this' and stuck to our guns.”
Robinson didn't deny his men had ridden on the back of plenty of Sawtell misfortune in the closing stages.
“We got a couple of piggybacks when the Panthers dropped the ball, when they got lucky they didn't capitalise and we did,” he said.
“Everybody is just over the moon and you know, they deserve to be happy with that.
“Now we have to keep on winning.”
Bellingen went into the game without Bert Gray and Sawtell had a near-disaster of their own when in-form prop Brad Wykes made an early exit through injury.
After trading try-for-try, the Magpies had a four-point lead at the break that was wiped away soon after the resumption.
When the Panthers finally put the foot down, the wheels came off.
Still, assistant coach Greg Shuttleworth claimed the problems were glaringly obvious much earlier in the game.
“We didn't switch off, we just didn't start,” he said frankly.
“Bello finished with all the momentum and good luck to them.
“We dropped too much ball and it wasn't a great day attitude-wise – to be honest we just weren't here today.”