Woolgoolga’s Nick Campbell is downed just short of the line.
Woolgoolga’s Nick Campbell is downed just short of the line. TREVOR VEALE

The Great Escape re-enacted

THERE was no sign of Steve McQueen pursued by German soldiers and jumping fences on a motorbike, but The Great Escape was re-enacted at Bellingen Park yesterday.

Woolgoolga pulled off a last-ditch, 34-28 miracle against a no-names, no-frills, no-surrender Bellinger Valley-Dorrigo outfit that refused to lie down.

Magpie prop Ryan O’Connor admitted at the end he didn’t know the names of some of the team-mates, dragged in at the last moment. But for another week, coach Josh White was left shattered by another two points slipping out the door at the last minute.

“I’m proud of their efforts ... win, lose or draw,” he said while trying to crack a smile.

“Still, you’ve got to take the cards as they are dealt and we had the opportunity to get home, but some late options went wrong and we didn’t quite get there.”

The Seahorses constantly frustrated coach Steve Gooley ... not to mention themselves ... by persistent inability to despatch their opponents after it seemed as if they’d found their rhythm.

By scoring the first two tries Woopi forced the home side to play catch-up, but couldn’t completely shake them off.

“I’ll be honest: we were lucky to get out of that one,” coach Gooley sighed.

“We kept letting them back into the game and when things went wrong, we were very undisciplined.

“But they showed a bit of ticker to hang in there and we got the break at the end.”

Bello players like Neill, Tuama, Cooke and Martin – who with due respect are hardly household names – showed that a football reputation is crafted as much with the heart as it is with hands.

In the 67th minute they took the lead, then increased it ... before the visitors finally got their act together and swamped the brave defiance to what should have been a foregone conclusion.

Gooley, not for the first time, was lamenting the ill-discipline in his side with a lopsided 16-8 penalty count inhibiting their execution.

“Back to the drawing board there, we got a bit excited,” was his droll comment.

“Must do better next time.”

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