Story Dean Trevaskis – Photos Tayla Clorley
The Mullum Moonshiners’ only loss in season 2013 came in round three against Iluka. On Saturday the top of the table Shiners returned to the fishing village to make amends against the fourth placed Cossacks.
Improvement across the park has the young Shiners potent from the boot, the backs and the tight eight. They set up camp on Iluka’s line early and cracked the Cossacks when Sati ‘So Many Rivers’ Siamoa exploded off the scrum to open the scoring.
With the Shiners’ movie star front row of Arthur, Matchett-Oates and Stubbings (soon to be seen promoting the Wallabies v Lions series) dominant, the Cossacks were under the pump.
When inside centre Todd Arthur hit a ball at full tilt ten metres from the line Iluka’s full back was the bunny in the spotlight. He was still trying to reassemble his ribcage as Nath Nicholls made the conversion for a 14 – 0 Moonshine lead. The icing on an excellent first half cake was a solo effort down the wing from the Shiners Galloping Gasometer Lachlan Stubbings, to send the Shiners into the break with a 19 – 0 lead.
Iluka’s feisty fisherman are not known for waving the white flag and came out blazing with both barrels in the second half. The game deteriorated into a scrappy affair that played into Iluka’s hands.
As Mullum scrambled to regain structure the Cossacks used their backs’ lightning speed and ‘keep the ball alive at all costs’ mentality to turn the game on its head. Previously rock solid Moonshine defence was now strung out and rattled. The tries came in a rush, 19 – 7, 19 – 12 and fifteen minutes in the game was squared up at 19 all. Mullum reverted to basics with skipper Teale Pyne leading the way with his trademark bone jarring tackles and gunbarrell straight runs.
With the game up for grabs the Shiners displayed a growing maturity to first stop the Cossack onslaught, then patiently win the arm wrestle for possession and field position.
Nathan Appel had dominated as Mullum’s go-to man in the line out. His speed, dexterity and quick thinking proved the turning point in the game.
With more front than a rat with a gold tooth he pilfered the pill from an indecisive Cossack defence and scored his first try of the season. ‘Mr Reliable’ Nath Nicholls drilled the kick and followed up soon after with a penalty conversion to put the Cossacks to bed 29 – 19. The win has the Shiners perched on top of the table with a much anticipated clash with second placed Lismore awaiting on June 29that Bruns following a general bye this week.