With the Moonshiners coming off a loss and third place Evans Heads pushing for a top two spot the stakes were high at Brunswick Heads on Saturday.
The Rugby gods provided glorious weather, the crowd arrived in numbers and the action was fast and furious.
For the second week running Mullum had got pantsed at the kick off. Early field position and an elusive outside centre had the Evans Killer Whales celebrating a soft try within the first 90 seconds. They looked like following up with a pick and drive at the line only to be held up in a green and gold hot dog bun. Either that or the imposing figure of Coach Shane Ivey on the sidelines sparked the Shiners to life. A clearing kick, clever off load from Leon Matchett-Oates and scything run from Scott Hazlewood-Potts had the Evans defence scrambling five from their line. Nathan Appel showed great composure to direct traffic through half a dozen phases before seizing the moment with a pick and go between a staggered Evans line to make it one try apiece. The Evans counter was down the wing and looked promising until Mullum’s will-o’-the-wisp full back, Jacob ‘Kahunas’ Johnston, landed a massive tackle that echoed a dull thud and drew grimaces then cheers from the crowd. Mullum’s best on ground Simon Hutton made the run of the day out of defence, evading seven defenders, a heavy bump and the laws of physics to keep running when his arse was barely an inch from the ground. The fast pace and physicality began to take its toll. Evans half back Andy Levett went down with a serious injury that required hospitalisation for a possible spine injury. As of Sunday night he’d been cleared of any major damage and discharged but was awaiting further scans. Evans added a penalty to take an 8-7 lead at the end of torrid first-half.
Mullum half-back Jackson Lewin upped the tempo after the break. The quick ball kicked the backs into rhythm. Withering runs from Hutton and Jonston, topped off with a barging effort from Lachlan Stubbings provided the body blows to soften the Evans defence. James Chester took full advantage breaking a tackle to score a five-pointer. Minutes later he nailed the daily double with a powerful solo effort from 20 metres out that saw him crash over the line with three defenders on his back. The lead was out to 13 points. Evans raised another effort and strung the phases together playing in Mullum’s half for ten minutes. But there were no gaps and when Mullum put the brakes on an Evans maul, the shackles were soon broken with quick movement through the backs. It was the last hurrah in a pulsating 21-8 victory for the Shiners. Hazlett, Hicks and Nathan Appel were all excellent but the unsung heroes were props Adam Ryan and Lachlan Stubbings, driving the Mullum pack unchanged all game and nullifying their more experienced opponents. This Saturday the Shiners are off to Lismore with the spoils for the winner top rung of the ladder.