Hornets in full flight
CUDGEN Hornets put in a performance Neil “Matey” Prichard would have been proud of to open the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League season with a 40-18 win over Tweed Coast yesterday.
Players and crowd stood for a minute's silence before first grade play kicked off at Ned Byrne Field to honour the Hornets legend, who sadly passed away in the off season.
His sons Tom and Joe, plus nephew Robert, were in the Cudgen starting line-up and all three had solid games as the Hornets picked apart the Raiders' defence.
Captain-coach Craig Field superbly led the Hornets around the park at halfback, putting Tweed Coast's back three under immense pressure with his kicking game.
The home side's impressive ball movement across the park was a product of the combination between hooker John Palmer and Field.
The scoreline wasn't flattering for the Raiders, but the side at times looked dangerous, especially when the ball was in the hands of their co-captain and five-eighth Matt Riddle.
Riddle helped the Raiders get out to an early lead within five minutes of the opening hooter when he put a grubber into the Hornets' in-goal and halfback Arren Laycock raced through and dived on the ball for a try.
It took just a few minutes for Cudgen to reply through Scott Julius.
Cudgen's next two tries, to five-eighth Jake Sands and winger Jackson Hardy, were the result of Field's deft kicking game and indecision from the Raiders' back three.
Cudgen's speedy movement of the ball across the field resulted in another try after Robert Prichard got the ball out wide, drew Raiders' defenders, then offloaded to Julius who crossed again.
Hornets centre Tony Pamatangi looked dangerous all day, and when he hit a perfectly weighted ball from Field at full speed just five metres from the Raiders line, he was unstoppable.
Tweed Coast hit back through centre Josh Togo after Riddle put him through an enormous hole in Cudgen's goal-line defence, but Tom Prichard added four extra points for Cudgen right on half time, giving Cudgen a 32-12 lead at the break.
The Raiders never looked like they would make up the difference in the second half, despite an early long-range effort by Riddle, who sprinted 50 metres, then offloaded to fullback Troy Canning to score.
Cudgen closed out the match with a try to prop Steve Kirkham, who was there to fall over the line after fullback Shannon Murphy toed the ball through after a Raiders mistake 10 metres from Cudgen's line, but was tackled three metres short after a 85-metre run.