What’s a Group 11 derby without a bit of drama.
In a blockbuster June long weekend clash between two southern rivals Parkes and Forbes, Chad Porter led the Spacies to a stirring 28-18 win over the Magpies with a four-try performance for the ages.
But most of the talk post match was on three separate incidents.
Magpies centre Traie Merritt didn’t take part in the clash after being dismissed from the field after an altercation in a fiery under 18s clash. Merritt was a trainer.
While, early on in the first grade game, Magpies players and fans blew up delux after it appeared Parkes winger Branden Paige lashed out with his leg after taking Forbes fullback Jarrod Nicholson into touch.
The alleged kick went unnoticed by officials.
And, with Forbes storming back into the contest with the scoreline 22-14 in the host’s favour, Magpies half Chris Kirby looked certain to have scored to draw the back and whites within striking distance of Parkes with 32 minutes left on the clock.
Referee Simon Hartas, right on the spot, called it short, and ruled a knock-on.
In the end, the Spacemen emerged deserved victors on the back of a five star outing from Porter, but the moments that highlighted an absolutely gripping contest between Forbes and Parkes look set to continue to be played out during the week.
FT | Parkes defence holds strong in a gripping 28-18 win over Forbes #Group11— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) June 11, 2017
Magpies captain-coach Jake Grace said he and the club will look at footage of the Merritt incident in the under 18s before passing judgement, but Grace was quick to add his side’s errors were the cause for the loss, not any other outside factors.
“There’s never a dull moment but the refs do a great job, I think Simon is the best ref in the comp and if he calls it one way we get on with it,” Grace said.
“The thing with Traie, we’ll obviously go to the judiciary and have a look at that … that’s the call that was made.”
He said Forbes has to be better disciplined with the ball if it’s going to mount any form of premiership defence.
“At the end of the day we’ve got to be better than that, we’ve got a good enough team to win regardless,” he continued.
“And we weren’t good enough (against Parkes).”
Initially it looked like the defending premiers would shoot out of the blocks after Jarred Tyack showed a very clean pair of heels to score after just three minutes. Kirby’s goal made it 6-0.
But Porter turned the game the Spacies way in a 15-minute period Forbes never really recovered from.
Throwing a massive dummy – one that would give Mitch Burke nightmares all game – Porter sliced through to score his first after eight minutes – it was the beginning of a Spacies processional.
Halves partner Alex Prout dove over next, while porter completed his hat-trick by the 25th minute to hand Parkes a 22-6 lead.
They wouldn’t score another try until the 70th minute – which was off the back of another Porter dummy that left Forbes’ right-edge defence grasping at thin air – and in the lead-up the premiers rallied.
Tries to Grace, Nicholson and Martin Herbert got Forbes back within 22-18 – but it was never enough as the parochial crowd lifted the hosts in the dying stages.
Defence from both teams was brutal – it’s the first thing Porter points out.
“They were jamming us and then we stuck it back to them … it’s always good to beat them, especially at home,” Porter said, revelling in his first four-try haul.
The Western Rams under 23s halfback said there was no plan to attack Forbes’ left-edge defence, but once it opened up early the Spacies rammed home the advantage.
“It sort of just opened up for me and I found open space and I just got through,” he said.
“We played off the back of our forwards, they laid the platform for me .. I enjoyed it.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. It always is, a local derby so we knew we had to start well, we finished well too.”
70 | TRY!!! Porter grabs a fourth - he has butchered Forbes right-edge defence. Moran nails the goal from the chalk - it's 28-18 #Group11— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) June 11, 2017
Grace said that four-try avalanche was tough to come back from.
“Four tries in a row without touching the footy, you’re never going to score points without the footy.
“But at the end of the day it comes down to one-on-one missed tackles and errors from us.”