The Stars started their season with a good result against the North Harbour Rays at Manly Oval, winning 29-45 in a game with more breaks than a good day at Freshwater beach.
It was pushing 30 degrees and on the end of a long Shute Shield. This was always going to be a tough ask.
ARU chief Bill Pulver was among the healthy crowd that came out to see the Sydney derby match.
The game opened with an early try to the Rays with Alex Northam going over in the left corner following a neat backline move.
Almost immediately the Rays were attacking again and got a penalty in front, making the ballsey call for a scrum. It appears the NRC rules are in full swing as the attacking teams are snubbing 2 point penalties in preference for the 8 point converted try.
On this occasion the Rays paid the price for their gamble, the Stars winning the ball and unceremoniously marched up the field.
This was to be the flavour of the day; the teams wildly trading field position.
And it was great watching.
Another try to the home team saw the lead extend to 13-0, until the Stars snapped into gear scoring the next 37 points unanswered to go into the break 13-37.
Tom Hill scored for the Rays early in the second half, off a deft one handed catch-pass inside.
A slick try.
The Rays then went over again, this time from an up and under which was quickly recycled for a grubber, Josh Holmes recollecting and scoring under the posts. Score now 29-37 with the stars clinging to their lead.
The Rays clearly had the coach’s order to be ruthless at the breakdown as they tried to bash the visitors. Their defence was matched by the Stars, with a couple of massive hits in the second half.
What felt like an AFL game early turned into a structured affair with the Rays continuing their strong comeback in the second half, until Stars reserve and American Tom Coolican took an opportunistic try, extending the lead to 45-29. This proved enough space to close out the game.
In the end, a dominating Stars scrum turned the screws and could have made the difference.
A good win for head coach Peter Playford; the Stars undefeated in 2015.
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