Seahorses down Axemen
THE last five minutes was crucial in Woolgoolga’s narrow 24-18 victory over Orara Valley at the Sports Reserve yesterday.
For all but the closing stages the Axemen had marginal superiority in completing sets and it almost got them home.
But with three-try hero Rob Toshack driving his side at the gaps he was creating and enough passes finally sticking, the Seahorses overcame a two-point deficit and added a penalty on the bell for good measure to engineer a narrow escape.
“I hope we learned a lesson in those last five minutes that when we do hold possession, we’re actually pretty good,” winning coach Steve Gooley said.
“Toshack didn’t have enough ball runners and that’s something we’ll work on at training.
“Fitness was good, discipline was terrible and completion was appalling.”
Both sides threw themselves into the match as if it were a semi-final rumble, rather than the kick-off to a brand-new season.
Sections of the crowd were unimpressed when referee Jason Townley whistled up 32 penalties but with nine of them for back chatting, neither coach was prepared to criticise his performance and in fact, each castigated his players severely for ill-discipline.
Orara boss Daryl Fisher said his side ‘fell off the edge at the last’ but was beaming with pleasure at the effort.
“Although we were clueless when in Woopi’s territory and without a couple of regulars but we still went great,” he said.
“There’s work to do so that everybody knows what each other’s roles are but once that happens, it will sharpen the performance a lot.”
Twice the scores locked up and Woopi took a slender lead into the break but the visitors made the running for 35 minutes in the return period.
Toshack finally found the winning formula and should earn a berth when the senior representative side is chosen tonight.
But thanks to his polished professionalism, the headache for selectors will be which number jumper he’s going to wear.