Forbes raced in eight tries in a Group 11 elimination semi-final drubbing of Macquarie at Spooner Oval on Saturday, hooker Hayden Bolam lighting up week one of the finals with a stunning display out of acting-half.
But all the talk post game was on the Magpies’ defence.
The black and white wall is back.
A week after conceding just the one try to southern rivals Parkes, Forbes’ defence was again instrumental against a Raiders attack that posed plenty of questions through the likes of Sam Coe, Lewis Stanley and young rake Kane McDermott over the course of the 80 minutes.
But, in the end, Cameron Greenhalgh’s Magpies had all the answers, running out 38-0 victors in front of a raucous home crowd.
In a competition renowned for its attacking highlights, Forbes has been impressive both with and without the ball now for the last three weeks and will head into next week’s minor semi-final full of running.
“Our defence, everything is coming off the back of that at the moment. It’s getting the points for us,” Bolam said, enjoying his best game in Magpies colours since re-joining his junior club mid-season.
“We just keep turning up for each other.”
HT | Forbes, too good.— Nick McGrath (@nickmcgrath4) August 18, 2018
The Magpies have raced in four first-half tries, two to Richard Fui, to lead the Raiders by 20 points at the break.
But it's the Maggies' defence that's been tremendous. The Raiders have thrown plenty at it, but come up with nothing.#Group11pic.twitter.com/4tUrLc9dVE
Bolam scored one try, burst through for two line breaks and had to settle for just the one try assist after young fullback Charlie Staines made a meal of some brilliant hooker work early in the game.
The Magpies rake spotted space in behind the Raiders’ ruck in just the third minute and raced into the back field before finding a looming Staines in support.
Bolam put the first try of the game on a platter for Staines after beautifully drawing in Macquarie fullback Coe but the Forbes No.1 inexplicably dropped his lollies 10 metres out from the posts, with no one within shouting distance of the normally faultless finisher.
Really, that was the only blemish in an otherwise glittering 80 minutes from the Magpies.
He may have butchered the opening try of the game, but Staines bagged the last, again after Bolam found space, while Richard Fui and Jarred Tyack both crossed for doubles and Mitch Burke, Mosese Qionomacawa and Bolam all scored four-pointers in between, the latter’s capping a stellar man of the match effort from the Red Bend alumni.
“I’ve gelled straight back into the side. I’ve played with these boys most of my life. I’ve found it easily,” Bolam said, before laughing at the Staines gaffe early on.
“I thought he was in for sure, but oh well. We got it back later on.
“I feel like we’re going well there, around the ruck, and when (Jaiden Burke) comes on for me and I move to lock he’s doing a good job there as well.”
Macquarie’s lone bright spot came at the half-hour mark when peppering Forbes’ line, but backrower John Ciappara got a touch of white line fever and was pinged for a double movement.
Raiders coach Dylan Hill couldn’t fault his side’s enthusiasm, but said inexperience proved telling.
“We’ve got a young team and it’s been a learning curve, for me as a coach and for them as players,” he said.
“I was pleased to make the finals but ideally I would have loved to have gone further, and I believe we had the team that probably could have gone further.”
He conceded the Raiders’ 2018 season is a stepping stone for future tilts at a premiership.
Macquarie hasn’t sung the team song on grand final day since 2012, and Saturday’s 38-point loss is the club’s second-straight week one finals exit.
“We’re not at the stage where we want to be yet and Forbes looks like they’re going to be hard to stop. they’ve got the potential to go all the way and challenge CYMS, Parkes and Wellington,” Hill said.
Magpies skipper Jake Grace was tremendous for the swoopers, as were halves Mitch Burke and Farren Lamb, while, for the Raiders, Jake Grady provided the Macquarie attack with plenty of spark.
- FORBES MAGPIES 38 (Richard Fui 2, Jarred Tyack 2, Mitch Burke, Charlie Staines, Hayden Bolam, Mosese Qionimacawa tries; Farren Lamb 3 goals) def MACQUARIE RAIDERS 0