Mullum’s full-back Troy McArthur bravely came back on to the field with a bung arm on Sunday at Casino.
For a while there, the Mullumbimby Giants were beginning to look like an outside chance of figuring in the NRRRL play-offs. Following a disastrous 2012 and a shaky start to 2013, coach Troy Johnstone had guided his boys to the cusp of an unlikely spot in the top five. It all came to a shattering end on a sunny winter’s arvo at Queen Elizabeth Park last Sunday when the Casino Cougars gave the blue-and-golds a 49-16 hiding.
It was one of those games in which everything went right for the home side while all was reduced to ashes for the visitors. Not that luck had anything to do with it, and, to give credit where it’s due, the Giants were poor, the Cougars excellent.
Mullum were away to a cracking start when Grant Cook surged into the Cougars’ twenty after he’d cleaned-up a kick charge-down. In the ensuing set, young butter-blonde second-rower Todd Arthur backed up some probing running by Dan Woods and Tim Abbott to stroll over and, with Woods’s conversion, the Giants were ahead 6-0. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for things to go horribly awry.
Casino’s custodian took a bomb and, from nothing, sent his half-back on an eighty-metre dash to the line. The Cougars’ number seven, David Briggs, a spindly-legged but tough little Koori with a ton of pace, produced a whale of a game. He and his tall, Sutton-like number-six had a hand in all of Casino’s nine tries.
Play was halted for a while when an elderly touchie had to be replaced after his groin packed it in, but the break favoured the home side. Upon the resumption they spread the ball from one wing to the other with crisp, accurate passing that allowed them to easily skirt Mullum’s defensive line. Employing the principle that says when something works, you keep doing it until it doesn’t, Casino cashed in on the metres gained by their bigger forwards and dominant five-eighth by consistently sending it wide. In quick time it was 28-6 and the Giants, guilty of far too much ineffective tackling and lousy ball control, were starting to resemble the Australian cricketers at Lord’s – which is to say, they were rooted.
The second forty started in much the same way as the first. Mullum applied early pressure but when opportunity presented itself they surrendered possession with ill-considered or misdirected passes. The Cougars, lapping up their opponents’ knock-ons, displayed overwhelming enthusiasm and never failed to take advantage of what came their way. Kicking a field-goal to make it 39-6 was a contemptuous appraisal of the visitors and Mullum, gritty to the end, struck back with true spirit.
Lightweight winger Zac Docking notched a try and, after barnstorming lead-up by Jake ‘Cobar’ Francisco and Robbie ‘Crazy’ Goodacre, Aaron ‘the Mo’ Cook crossed under the sticks.
In the prelim, the Giants, who always produce a tough Under 18s outfit, registered an impressive 22-10 victory to keep alive their semis hopes.
Mullumbimby will now need to re-group for this Sunday’s local derby against Byron Bay at Red Devil Park. You can rest assured that they will. Be there for what is always an intense battle.