Wet conditions and a team of grizzled old Grafton Redmen provided the ingredients for the Mullum Moonshiners to learn the art of winning ugly.
After touching up the Redmen a fortnight earlier, the Shiners were confronted with a vastly bigger and more experienced opponent clearly intent on unsettling them.
Mullum lost its two most experienced campaigners over the past fortnight with tireless stalwart Seymour Walters who willingly played any position asked of him hanging up the boots after forty years of ruck and mauling, and veteran prop Matt Perry, who is on the road to recovery after dislocating his hip last week.
The op went well and Pez, in fine spirits, turned up large as life to cheer the boys on. Ever the optimist he has an eye on September.
Grafton drew the Shiners into a kicking contest early which suited their bigger, less mobile team. The Redmen played to their strength keeping it tight and relying on their experience at the breakdown.
Sati Siamoa looked as happy as a pig in the old proverbial in his new found home in the two jersey. He got the best out of his props with players player Mitch ‘Bulldozer’ Arthur and Lachlan ‘Sugar Ray’ Stubbings dominating the scrums and putting the Redmen under the kosh with some good line breaks.
Keelan Jenkins was the iceman at full back, catching everything and nullifying Graftons kicking game. In attack the Shiners were creating opportunities but tended be over ambitious in the wet conditions.
At half time it was one penalty apiece and the game was up for grabs.
Running with the wind in the second half, Simon Hutton set the Shiners alight with a trademark run that left a dozen Redmen groping thin air.
Todd Arthur was creating opportunities and providing crunching defence. The Shiners attack started to come in waves as the Redmen began to look their age. But the Shiners couldn’t ice the cake as attack repeatedly broke down with a last pass fumble. Nath Nicholls nailed his second penalty to give the Shiners a 3 point advantage.
Then the ref, confused at times, sent Mullum enforcer Teale Pyne for a spell in the sin bin. With subs Jimmy Pyne, Adam Ryan and Nathan Appel hitting the ground running, weight of numbers paid dividends.
The defining moment was left to breakaway Scott Hazelwood-Potts in dazzling form to gather, jig, fend and dash for his third try of the season.
Nichols slotted his third kick of the afternoon to secure a 13–3 win. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t convincing but it was a genuine 15 rounder – that will be experience in the bank for later in the season.
The team is away to Ballina next weekend looking for win number seven.