Old and new Axemen back
MID North Coast Axemen return to big time rugby in Lismore today.
After dropping out of the Country Rugby Union Championship series two years ago, the side has attracted a new coach in Southern Shield premiership-winner Ron McCarthy and concentrated on rebuilding confidence in the squad.
At 3.55pm, the side will take on the winner of the Far North Coast Dolphins-Illawarra Illawarriors match before a final game at 9.35am tomorrow against either Western Plains Plainsman or New England Lions.
The pack has plenty of firepower with the inclusion of three back-rowers from the premiership-winning Hastings Valley Vikings and exciting Coffs Crushers loose forward David Kikau.
Vikings will supply eight members to the tour but in a major surprise, the Southern Shield competition has earned just two berths, including brilliant Gloucester halfback Andrew Paynter.
Coffs skipper Craig Landrigan will lead the side.
While the Open squad will be at bolter’s odds, a better playing surface than what they ran into at Wollongong last week will boost the chances of the Axemen Colts.
The young guns have a 1pm appointment today against Far North Coast Dolphins with Sunday’s 9.35am match against Newcastle-Hunter or Central West Blue Bulls.
Team manager Mat Quirk said the 23-5 loss to Illawarra had not been unexpected once it was discovered heavy rain had turned the ground into a bog.
“Speed in the backline is what gives us an edge and because of the conditions the boys were able to use it,” he said.
Poor defence allowed Illawarra to score two early tries and while the Axemen started playing good rugby, they couldn’t trim the margin.
Forced to play catch-up, disaster struck when Illawarra scored first after the break.
“We eventually got across the try line and were unlucky not to get another but by that stage it was too late,” Quirk added.
“Under the right conditions today, our lightning fast backline may be able to turn the campaign around.”
MNC Open XV
1. Matthew Joyce (Coffs Crushers), 2. David Tunstead (Hastings Vikings v/capt.), 3. Nick Joyce (Coffs Breakers), 4. David Campbell (Hastings Vikings), 5. Brad Henry (Coffs Crushers), 6. Colin Rogers (Hastings Vikings), 7. David Kikau (Coffs Crushers), 8. Craig Landrigan (Coffs Crushers capt.), 9. Andrew Paynter (Gloucester Cockies), 10. Korie Paio (Port Pirates), 11. Kris Kent (Coffs Breakers), 12. Brenden Robins (Coffs Breakers), 13. Mike Boyle (Port Pirates), 14. Dylan Hurley (Coffs Breakers), 15. Adam McCormack (Hastings Vikings). Reserves: 16. Nathan Wallace (Coffs Breakers), 17. Kelvin Rushworth (Coffs Breakers), 18. Dylan Cooper (Hastings Vikings), 19. Daniel Hessing (Wallamba Bulls), 20. Paul Chaplin (Hastings Vikings), 21. Brodie Barnett (Hastings Vikings), 22. Tom Hetherington (Hastings Vikings).
MNC Colts XV
1. Peter Nuske (Coffs Rugby), 2. Jeremy Segol (Wallamba Bulls), 3. Daniel Wilson (Coffs Rugby), 4. Chris Tonks (Coffs Rugby), 5. John Korff (Coffs Rugby capt.), 6. Jake Clay (Kempsey Cannonballs), 7. Sean Hassett (Forster Dolphins), 8. Kane Clough (Wallamba Bulls), 9. Luke Chaplin (Hastings Vikings), 10. Tom Middlebrook (Gloucester Cockies v/capt.), 11. Martin Roods (Port Pirates), 12. Matthew Spence (Coffs Rugby), 13. Chris Tout (Old Bar Clams), 14. Karrnunny Pearce (Coffs Rugby), 15. Corey Gale (Kempsey Cannonballs). Reserves: 16. Owen Roods (Hastings Vikings), 17. Luke Davis (Hastings Vikings), 18. Wade Penfold (SCU Bull Ants), 19. Tom Markey (Gloucester Cockies), 20. Trae Wilkins (Forster Dolphins), 21. Logan Marshall (Hastings Vikings), 22. Tim Hartmann (Coffs Rugby).