Topics:  lower clarence magpies, nrrrl, rugby league

Keeping the faith

Lower Clarence's Curtis Laurie tries to break through the Evans head defence during the trial match at Maclean Showground on Saturday.
Lower Clarence's Curtis Laurie tries to break through the Evans head defence during the trial match at Maclean Showground on Saturday.

LOWER Clarence Magpies produced a strong showing in their first hit-out of the season, providing new coach Grant Brown with plenty of positives.

The Magpies were upstaged 24-12 by Evans Head in the pre-season trial at the Maclean Showground but Brown was upbeat about his side's prospects for 2012.

"It's hard to gauge how teams are going early in the season but I thought we didn't go too bad," Brown told the Examiner.

"It was a good chance to trial some new players and clear the cobwebs out. We played four quarters and for the first stint we put our reserve-grade side on the paddock."

The Magpies will be hoping to drag themselves off the bottom of the NRRRL ladder this season and for Brown it will be one of the biggest challenges in his rugby league career.

The departure of Dan Randall, Xavier Sullivan, Todd Cameron and Joel Moss has left the club short on experienced players in key positions.

Randall's stinging defence and hard-running style will be sorely missed as will Cameron's passing and kicking game from five-eighth.

After racing to an 18-0 lead, the Bombers were reeled in by the Magpies who Brown said were let down by too many unforced errors.

"We certainly need to work on our discipline as well as our defence," he said.

"There was too many dropped balls and missed tackles. Evans had a couple of new guys and it was a good hit-out for both teams."

Lower were short on numbers with several players involved in local cricket finals however young centre sensation Andrew Kapeen showed glimpses of brilliance out wide.

Kapeen was left floundering in reserve grade last season but this year Brown is expecting big things from the elusive outside back.

"Andrew's got plenty of talent and I can tell you he won't be playing reserve grade this season," Brown said.

"Boxhead (Ryan Binge) went forward all day and I thought our half Norman Williams' kicking game was solid.

"Norman needs a bit more direction but looks the goods ... it's all a learning curve for him.

Lower Clarence's next trial game will be an away game against Ballina and Brown is hoping Magpies fans will make the trip up the highway to support their team.

The Magpies will be hoping to drag themselves off the bottom of the NRRRL ladder this season and for Brown it will be one of the biggest challenges in his rugby league career.



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