Lake players in tune with overdue victory

AFTER 21 months without a victory in Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union, Lake Macquarie could have been forgiven for forgetting the words to their team song.

But if Saturday’s entertaining 45-21 victory over University at University No.1 is any guide, the Roos will be well versed in the tune in the coming months.

The victory was Lakes’ first since July 17, 2010, when they beat Southern Beaches 31-22.

Last season was abysmal for the Roos as they conceded 940 points and scored only 179 in their 18 losses.

Scoring was not a problem on Saturday as the club’s host of new recruits repeatedly attacked the Students in a thrilling display of running rugby.

Parramatta recruit Dave Alo scored a hat-trick at centre by feeding off halfback Mika Taafua’s service in the six-tries-to-three win.

Roos assistant coach Bob Harrison said the side were a work in progress.

‘‘Their conditioning will get better as the competition goes on, but we really needed to work on some new combinations and get that winning, confident feeling back, and that showed in the way they played,’’ Harrison said.

‘‘We have some blokes who have brilliant skills, as good as anybody else in the competition. We just need to get that confidence in them to use the skills and at times we did it.’’

The match see-sawed in the opening half hour before University scored two converted tries in two minutes through winger Pierre de Lamberterie and Tim Alliston to grab a 21-17 lead at half-time.

Alliston’s 70-metre try came off the kick-off when he sliced through weak Lakes defence.

But it was all Roos in the second half as they scored 24 unanswered points, including tries to Alo (two), Matthew Bartley and Simon Tufi as they repeatedly shifted the ball wide.

Harrison said he was unsure if the side would change their free-flowing style when they face leading sides Merewether-Carlton, Hamilton and Southern Beaches.

‘‘If we reel them in then we might be playing into the opposition’s hands,’’ he said.

‘‘Whereas if we start throwing it around a bit we might test their defensive plans a bit.

‘‘It’ll be a decision we’ll have to make when we get closer to those games and see how we’re travelling.

‘‘Our philosophy is certainly to move the ball around and make them chase us.’’

For the inexperienced Uni side it was a major improvement on their 68-3 opening loss against Hamilton.

‘‘These guys are learning,’’ Uni coach Eti Filipo said.

‘‘Last week we copped a hiding. Today it was just the second half and the inexperience is starting to show. I have a talented bunch of boys, it’s just getting them used to playing 80 minutes of first grade rugby.’’

Hamilton held off a fast-finishing Maitland at Marcellin Park to win 17-14. The Hawks led 17-0 at half-time before the Blacks stormed back into contention through a mountain of possession and tries to Jono O’Toole and Michael Howell.

At Cahill Oval Southern Beaches destroyed Singleton 57-3 in a nine-tries-to-nil romp. Defending premiers Merewether kept their fortress intact by beating the Waratahs 22-14 at Townson Oval and Wanderers returned from Bill Strong Oval with a 29-12 victory over Nelson Bay.

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