Northern boys get over line
THE Lower Mid North Coast were outstanding for an hour in combating Upper MNC's age-old rugby union superiority in Saturday's Abigroup Cup before conceding 32-15 defeat at Tuncurry.
With Harrington Harlequins' lock Tim Burns ploughing over from flanker Chad Lambert's half-break for the LMNC's third try to lock the score at 15-all in the 61st minute, local hopes rose only to be dashed by a late, three-try winning surge.
“An excellent game and a damn good thing,” Upper MNC captain-coach Paul Butcher said of the concept of matching north against south as a MNC Axemen's selection trial.
It was not the cakewalk traditionalists anticipated. In fact, so well did Teia Ambrosoli's scrum perform early on that they muscled UMNC's scrum about to steal a tight-head and set Tom Harris' back line firing for winger Max Elmes' 10th minute try.
With the Old Bar Clams' front row of Brett Ramage, hooker Ambrosoli and Murray Polson leading the way and the Clams' utility back Adam Gregory stifling attacks in midfield, Lower MNC appeared capable of an upset. Gradually, with northern players realising their opponents were not a soft touch, and hooker Tim Metcher, 17, leading the way, their forwards gained more possession.
Forward Craig Landrigan won valuable lineout possession and after a tremendous struggle at the breakdown, No.8 Butcher's forwards ran their rivals about to win well, if never comfortably.
Likewise, halves Vallentine and Chaplin were able to organise counter-attacks more frequently, their domination eventually leading to three tries in 14 minutes to secure a hard-earned victory.
- UPPER MNC 32 (W Guest 2, D Barnes, C Matheson, T Platt, S Dunn tries; W Guest goal) def LOWER MNC 15 (M Elmes, B Durham, T Burns tries).