IF Wayne Bennett had been at Lakeside Sports Complex yesterday for Macquarie’s 30-0 win over the Port Stephens Sharks in the Newcastle Rugby League, he would not have approved of Daine Laurie kicking midfield bombs.
But the master coach would have been interested in the 198-centimetre colossus’s damaging hit-ups and ferocious defence.
Laurie’s performance in the second half sparked an otherwise dull match, full of handling errors, and inspired the Scorpions to the six-tries-to-nil victory.
The former Wests Tigers and Penrith enforcer joined the Knights in the summer after half a season last year at Macquarie but is yet play in the NSW Cup due to a rib cartilage injury.
Knights recruitment manager Peter Mulholland was at Raymond Terrace yesterday to witness what was easily Laurie’s most dominant performance for the Scorpions.
Macquarie led 6-0 after a scrappy first half, before Laurie put up a midfield bomb which was spilt by Sharks winger Rhys Cutbush.
Macquarie prop Luke Young picked up the scraps and passed to Laurie, who charged 40metres down the sideline to score.
Laurie also produced some bone-jarring defence on Sharks captain-coach James McCabe and veteran forward Matt Eather and constantly punched holes in the home side’s defence.
‘‘I thought Daino was the best player on the park by a mile,’’ Macquarie coach Noel Dent said.
‘‘The Knights are struggling for size and I think the higher grade he plays the better player he’ll be with better players.
‘‘I’m no Wayne Bennett, but I’d certainly be looking for some size as that’s where they’re struggling.’’
Macquarie were without star recruit halfback Mick Moran through a shoulder injury, which left Jacob Briggs to steer the side around the park.
Both sides bombed tries early before Briggs sent fullback Nathan Cantor in for the only try of the opening half.
After Laurie’s four-pointer, centre Shane Beale grabbed a double and hooker Andrew Sumner burrowed over to blow out the scoreline.
Second-rower Brendan Simpson crashed over in the dying minutes to complete the rout.
The Sharks, in their first competition game since their birth from the ashes of the Northern Blues, showed plenty of spirit in defence, but poor completions cost them.
Port Stephens knocked on twice attempting to ground tries and Cutbush was tackled into touch diving for the corner to prevent the new club from scoring their first points.
‘‘We did a lot of defence and only completed around 30 or 35per cent, so we did a lot of extra work, and it affected us in our attack and hurt us in the back end,’’ McCabe said.
‘‘If we had played a lot smarter it would have been a different game.’’
Kurri Kurri hooker Ben Wyborn scored a hat-trick at St John Oval to hand Central Newcastle a 38-4 defeat.
Bulldogs captain-coach George Ndaira was ecstatic with his side’s victory in his debut in charge.
Former Cronulla five-eighth Albert Kelly backed up from 80minutes in the Knights NSW Cup side on Saturday to play 70 minutes for the Butcher Boys.
The big concern coming out the game for Central was prop Mick Young (hamstring).
On Saturday, premiers Maitland were clinical in their 26-10 win over Western Suburbs in the grand final reply at Maitland Sportsground.
Cessnock showed why they are title favourites by whipping a fancied Lakes United 58-12 at Cahill Oval and South Newcastle pulled off a major upset to beat Wyong 24-6 at Morry Breen Oval.