Sports Shorts: Nelson Bay Gropers, Medowie Maraduers set for Hunter Rugby season kick off, Northern Hawks pick Maitland Pickers apart

BACK AT IT: Nelson Bay Gropers and Medowie Marauders in action during the Hunter Rugby Summers 7s series. Pictures: Stewart Hazell
BACK AT IT: Nelson Bay Gropers and Medowie Marauders in action during the Hunter Rugby Summers 7s series. Pictures: Stewart Hazell

NELSON Bay Rugby Union Club are fully fit and ready to go for their season opener against the Wanderers at Strong Oval on Saturday, April 17.

The Gropers will field two teams in the Hunter Rugby union competition. First grade will be coached by Michael Wiringi.

Second grade will have the very experienced Jason Gascoigne at the helm.

The 2020 NHRU Rams Cup premiership-winning Medowie Marauders will be the Port's third grade premier team.

The Nelson Bay club will have no overseas players in its teams this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. However the club has several RAAF players keen to play rugby in paradise.

With the flourishing junior system in the Bay, the rise to grade ranks is well established. Young Gropers Chad O'Toole and Riley Byfield are sure to make their mark in coming weeks.

The Bay will be without classy half back Charlie Fielder who is playing with the Hunter Wildfires.

The experienced Adam Edwards and Chad Northcott will provide the right attitude for young players starting in grade. Co-coach Geoff Sollit is also in a mentoring role.

The Gropers premier side will face the Wanders at home from 3pm. Fixtures have not yet been set for the other grades.

HAWKS: Will Trow

HAWKS: Will Trow

THE Northern Hawks Rugby League Club started their Easter break with two good wins over the strong Maitland club last Thursday night.

Playing at Tomaree Sportsground, the Hawks under-19s went back-to-back with a 12-4 win while the reserve grade built on a solid draw with Central the week before to win a tight contest over the Pickers 8-0.

The reserve grade match was a very physical encounter as both teams tried to gain the edge.

Coach Brad Tighe scored the opening try from a scrum win. The Hawks defended stoutly as they repelled plenty of Maitland attacking raids.

Midway through the second half Tighe, on a quick scoot from dummy half, gave Travis Edwards some space to kick to the corner for winger Ryan Wetherall to touchdown in the corner.

The under-19s were also solid in defence and a clever kick by half Kye Duffy saw centre Jarrod Dixon score the opening try.

After the half time break Duffy was in the action again with a neat pass to prop Jayden Hancock who scored next to the post.

Isaac Chapman converted and also landed a penalty goal to ice the match.

The Hawks line up against Lakes United at home on Sunday while third grade play Kurri Kurri.