GLEN Innes Magpies prepared for this weekend’s top-of-the-table blockbuster against Guyra with a solid 70- 20 victory over Armidale on Saturday.
With only one match in the previous four weeks, the Magpies were understandably a little rusty in some areas.
Nevertheless, their attacking machine clicked into gear to rattle in thirteen tries, eight of them in the second half after they led 26-16 at the break.
Fullback Ross Lewis got the first of his double in the second minute, with big prop Mone Loketi – who played the full 80 minutes – grabbing the second almost immediately.
Rams coach Brian Dennison got the visitors on the board when he accepted a kick behind the Glen Innes line.
However, the match was basically one-way traffic as Glen’s strong forward pack took control and their speedy backline capitalised on the chances provided by the pack.
Loketi made a few handling errors but his powerful surges produced many breaks and two tries.
Sam Key’s class shone brightly at five eighth as he orchestrated play throughout the match.
His personal points tally reached 26 from a pair of tries and nine goals, plus he had a hand in several other four- pointers.
The Magpies’ first four tries of the match came in just 15 minutes and they improved on that rate in the second half when the first four came about three minutes quicker.
Hooker Jamie Watts scored a hat-trick, with two tries coming from his peerless support play and the third from a trademark scamper out of dummy half.
His defence was also excellent in the type of game Glen Innes supporters have come to expect from their No. 9.
Apart from Watts’ three tries, Lewis, Loketi and Key bagged doubles while Jay Hampson, Adam Shaw, Jock Waters and Brett Stapleton got singles.
On the down side, the Magpies have lost exciting fullback Lewis for the rest of the season.
He suffered a fractured wrist in the first half and will be in plaster for several weeks.
Hard-running centre Joel Jackson dislocated a finger while fresh reserve forward Josh Dunne received a split above the left eye from friendly fire in the final exchange of the match.
“After only one match in the past month, we are lucky to finish with two games against top four teams,” Magpies coach Dale Keegan said.
“We’ve got Guyra here at home next Saturday and that will be a really good tune-up for us.
“Inverell have two byes to finish the season with and that’s tough on any team.”
Asked if the effort was scratchy, he replied, “It wasn’t really scratchy – we scored some brilliant tries but made quite a few unforced errors. That will improve.”