Greens stating case for title defence

TOO big, too fast, too strong ... and that was just Mark Wade.

Throw in the bone-rattling defence of Dan Kevill, Cal McDonald’s strike power, the guile and experience of Sean Rudder, the work at the breakdown by Adam Nolan, Ed Macdonald’s lineout prowess, the bullet-like service of Gareth Ernst and Mick Gill’s hunger.

Merewether may not be the force that swept to a history-making undefeated premiership last season, but the Greens have their swagger back.

In an ominous sign, Merewether powered past arch enemies Wanderers 39-12 at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday.

The Two Blues were in the match at half-time, trailing 10-5.

But when push came to shove, it was the visitors who rolled up their sleeves.

Aiden Kelso and Ernst crossed for tries as Merewether piled on 17 unanswered points to take control at 27-5.

Wanderers hit back with a converted try to Paul Mlotkowski and had another pulled back for obstruction which would have made it 27-17 with 10 minutes remaining.

The mini-revival sparked the Greens back into action. Wade ran 40metres for his second try and Kevill touched down on the bell to blow the score out.

‘‘We thought if we could play the corners – our scrum and lineouts were good – we were pretty confident with the lead at half-time that we could bring it home,’’ Merewether co-coach Dennis Shaw said.

The win was Nolan’s first game back since hurting his shoulder in the 20-3 triumph over the Two Blues in the first round. Five-eighth Sam Bright also returned after a long spell out with a broken hand.

Their inclusion added to that in recent weeks of Wade (Knights), Rudder (hamstring) and Cal McDonald (NSW Country). Sam Clifton (pectoral) is due back in four weeks.

‘‘We are starting to look good and really happy with where we are headed,’’ Shaw said. ‘‘We are confident now, like we were last year, that if we can hold on to the ball for long periods that we are going to hurt sides.

‘‘The early part of the season we didn’t have a Wade, a Cal McDonald, Ruddsy – people who can hurt you.

‘‘At times this year we had five or six players who were eligible for colts in the side. Now we have one, Billy Dunn.’’

The loss was Wanderers’ third in a row.

‘‘Merewether played well,’’ Wanderers coach Ellis Meachen said.

‘‘They executed the game plan, they played the corners, they built pressure and were patient.’’

Adding to their woes is a long string of injuries. Corey Te Koeti suffered a head knock, Marcus Simpson dislocated his shoulder, Ben Christensen has compressed nerves in his back and NSW Country prop Damien Winter, who was a standout, picked up a wrist problem.

‘‘Losing your prop and openside breakaway inside 30minutes doesn’t help but we can’t keep coming up with excuses,’’ Meachen said.

‘‘At the end of the day we missed tackles, and people made poor decisions in attack.’’

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