Forbes has produced its best performance of the season in toppling Group 11 big guns and southern derby rivals Parkes 18-6 in front of a bumper crowd at Pioneer Oval on Sunday.
Down 6-0 after the Magpies scored first through Mitch Burke, the Spacies were forced to play the final 50 minutes of the clash with 12 men after fullback Brandon Paige was sent off for striking as the third man in during a scuffle at the northern end of the ground in the first half.
Both sides came together but Paige was the only man given his marching orders by referee Simon Hartas, on the back of a report from his touch judge.
Down a man, the hosts defended gallantly and very nearly drew level with Forbes early in the second period but Burke, again, rose to the occasion, bursting through the Spacies’ line before sending star fullback Charlie Staines over for what was the match-sealing four-pointer with 15 minutes left on the clock.
The hosts broke through via centre Nelly Daplen, Chad Porter’s successful conversion giving Parkes hope, but inspirational Forbes skipper Jake Grace scored in the shadows of fulltime to bring Magpie Hill to its collective feet, wrapping up a confidence-boosting victory for the black and whites at the half-way point of the 2018 Group 11 first grade season.
An impressive gate of $7800 was on hand for the pulsating contest, while also, earlier, paid its respects to Western Division great Fred King, who passed away before Christmas.
King was instrumental as a player with Forbes and was a leading administrator with Parkes.
Burke praised his side’s defence but it was his five star outing, and a typically tough showing from Grace through the middle of the field, that helped lift the Magpies to its best win of the Group 11 season.
“We played well against Nyngan last week but to come over here today, they didn’t score until five or 10 minutes to go, it was all about our defence,” Burke said.
Parkes skipper Alex Prout was somewhat scathing of the decision to dismiss his fullback, a telling point in the annual Queen’s Birthday long weekend clash between the group’s two southern rivals.
“One of our blokes got hit twice and no one got sin binned, so I don’t know how that works. They only see what they can see, but it was a massive disadvantage for us,” a clearly frustrated Prout said post game.
“To play three quarters of the game with 12 men is a massive effort.
“To hold them to 6-0 for a fair chunk, I can’t be prouder. To defend for 65 minutes with 12 blokes is massive.
“We made a lot of mistakes though and that was because of our errors. We burned a lot of gas there,” he added.
As well as Parkes defended a man down, Forbes’ desperation in defence was also first class - two moments highlighting the swoopers’ incredible scramble without the ball.
Mid-way through the second half, with Forbes up by six, the Spacies looked certain to open their account through centre Paul Kronenberg but the Forbes defence rallied, stopped him short of the line and then bundled the Parkes outside back into touch.
And, leading 12-6 with the hosts searching for an equaliser late, Daplen surged down field but was reeled in by prop Ben Maguire, who managed to drag the flying Parkes’ Fijian into touch as well.
“I think our desperation, got us over the line, to be honest,” Burke added.
Forbes rounds the half-way mark of the 2018 season in two weeks time against Westside at Dubbo and Burke’s got no doubt the black and whites will take plenty of confidence into that clash.
“We didn’t start well this season, but Parkes is a quality team and beating them is a real lift,” he said.
As is the Forbes’ uncanny ability to score the first try of the match, which he did against Wellington in round five, as well.
“I’ve got boys outside me that get a lot of attention, I just play what I see. Sometimes it comes off,” he smiled.
- FORBES MAGPIES 18 (Mitch Burke, Jake Grace, Charlie Staines tries; Traie Merritt 2, Farren Lamb goals) def PARKES SPACMEN 6 (Nelly Daplen try; Chad Porter goal)