Round 1 of Far North Coast Rugby was always going to be a heated exchange between Bangalow Rebels and 2013 premiers Lismore City, and with the mercury rising above thirty degrees Saturday’s encounter didn’t disappoint.
The heat was so intense that 20 minutes into proceedings referee Cool Carl Lupton whistled for a water break.
After Bangalow raced out to a good start with a number of near length-of-the field efforts, the fellas were understandably feeling the heat and intensity of the first-round clash and the defending champs.
The first-quarter break was welcomed by the majority of players except one, Ice man Chris Bleakley, who with his immaculate jersey, without a bead of sweat on his brow, angrily exclaimed, ‘I hate [expletive] water breaks. Let’s get on with it!’ And in one swift outburst cemented himself as a first-rate whinger.
The physicality of the match didn’t disappoint with both big forward packs brutalising the breakdown and individuals at will; Bangalow’s new recruit Ottie Fifita smashed into the Lismore defence and attack, like the wrecking ball he promised to be, with great effect, 2013 Player of the year Will Cotteril was as always dominant in the lose all made easier by the dominant tight five who smashed Lismore’s scrum from pillar to post.
The success of the Bangalow junior club is paying dividends with six of the club’s junior players now playing senior grade football, Locky Walsh, Angus Dixon, Isaac Hill, Matt Phillips and Jake Brumley all seeing first-grade minutes on the weekend with Jake Scoring a dominant 60-metre try while three Lismore players licked his palm on his way to the try line.
Locky Walsh played above his weight and was solid in defence proving his worth to his older teammates. After the Rebels led for the majority of the match a late try took Lismore to a 23–20 win over the Rebels
Reserve Grade for the first time fielded a full card and with the welcome return of some players past have their sights set on a finals berth. After just one training run so far in 2014 the boys started strong and were down five at the half-time break.
The lack of cohesion was covered by the Rebels’ grit and determination with some bone cracking tackles from fresh-faced Richard Kelly after a season off, well supported with dominant performances from the axe Cromwell, Mitch the traveller Taylor and Logan Beast.
As the heat of the day wore on the legs began to slow and the younger fitter backs of the City reserves began to find some space and put on two tries late in the second half running out 15–0 winners.
Stay tuned as the Rebels take on the powerhouse of the Lennox Trojans next week in what will again be an entertaining encounter.