by Jarrard Potter
RUGBY LEAGUE: Despite a valiant effort from the Lower Clarence Magpies first grade team, their 2017 season has come to a close with a 74-22 loss against Cudgen.
The game didn't start well for the Magpies, who were wearing red socks in support of the Heart Foundation an in memory of players who died from heart-related issues.
Cudgen drew first blood in the match through a well structured play that put Conor Mills over in the corner.
Magpies were quick to hit back, with a lost ball giving the Magpies attacking field position, which captain-coach Dan Randall breaking through close to the line to level the score.
Poor ball control again cost Cudgen, gifting the Magpies an excellent attacking opportunity which Eathan Kapeen took full advantage of, planting the ball in the corner to give the Magpies an early 12-4 lead.
However the lead was short lived, with the game quickly switching back in favour of Cudgen, who went on the front foot to run in seven unanswered tries before the half time break. With Cudgen winger Mills scoring a first-half hat-trick, they took a lead 46-12 at the break.
The start of the second half saw a change of form for the Lower Clarence side, with some strong running in the middle of the park leading to Jirra Breckenridge bursting through the line to score under the posts.
Despite a knock-on giving Cudgen a full set within the Magpies 20m line, desperate defence in the corner denied Cudgen a try.
The Magpies put in a far stronger defensive effort in the second half, but forced passes and ill-discipline cost them any chance of building and sustaining attacking pressure on Cudgen.
With the damage done in the first half, Cudgen looked to be in cruise control before finding their first try of the second half after 20 minutes with centre Ben O'Gorman crossing over in the corner.
A knock-on from Eathan Kapeen gave Cudgen a scrum feed in prime attacking position, with Mills bagging his fourth try of the day off the feed.
Cudgen piled more pain on the Magpies with Jack Green and Sam Harrold both finding tries late in the second half.
Magpies interchange Blake Roberts scored a late consolation try to take the score to 22-68.
Cudgen centre O'Gorman completed his hat-trick in the dying stages of the match to finish the match 74-22.