Mitch Burke’s not the biggest name five-eighth in Group 11, but the live-wire half produced a five star performance on Sunday at Parkes to lift Forbes to an 18-6 victory, the Magpies’ best win of the Group 11 season.
After a somewhat error-riddled opening 20 minutes from both sides in the annual Queen’s Birthday long weekend clash at Pioneer Oval, Burke scored the first try of the match right on the quarter mark and then set-up the defining four-pointer in a pulsating clash with the Magpies’ southern rivals.
With 15 minutes left on the clock and Parkes seemingly in control, although still down by a converted try, Burke scooted right, dummied and burst through the Spacies’ line before drawing stand-in fullback Joey Dwyer to send young-gun Charlie Staines over for a great try in the shadows of Magpie Hill, at the northern end of the ground.
Traie Merrit’s goal took the black and whites out to what turned out to be an unassailable 12-0 lead.
Parkes hit back inside the final 10 minutes through Nelly Daplen and Chad Porter’s conversion ensured a grand stand finish.
But that stage always belonged to the Magpies, with skipper Jake Grace sealing victory with a tough try right on full-time to secure an 18-6 victory on the road against a 12-man Spacies after fullback Brandon Paige was sent off for his part in a scuffle in the first half.
Burke wouldn’t be drawn into the 30-minute mark fight, but said his side would take plenty out of knocking off a Parkes team been seriously consistent on its way to second on the ladder, prior to the round seven clash with Forbes.
“It was probably one of our better games of the year, I mean 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,” he said.
The Magpies wall was desperate, Burke said, with two particularly 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.
While, 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.