It was all to play for at Brunswick Heads in Presidents Cup Rugby on Saturday, with first placed Mullumbimby taking on second placed Lismore. It was their first encounter for the season. They will meet twice more in the five remaining rounds creating a three test series.
Lismore landed the first blows in spectacular style, playing tight disciplined rugby, recycling phase upon phase, starving Mullum of possession and planting the seeds of frustration.
The Shiners defended staunchly but were over-committing at the breakdown. Then Lismore’s full back found space out wide and looked a moral to score, when Teale Pyne the man they couldn’t root, shoot or electrocute smashed him in to touch to the roars of the faithful. But old heads were patient and when opportunity arrived Lismore’s number four found the white line with a pick and drive try to convert dominance to points.
From the restart Mullum made their first foray into Lismore territory, a good run and offload from marauding Mitch Arthur released Nathan Appel before Lismore closed the attack down.
The Shiners were working their way back when Lismore intercepted a pass near the halfway to score a devastating try. More pain was to follow when Mullum’s rock-solid full back Keelan Jenkins severely dislocated his ankle.
Tight head prop Lachlan Stubbings crashed out with a torn crotch and gammy knee minutes later. As the ref blew his pipe for oranges it was 15–0.
Early in the second half Mullum were reduced to fourteen men when a truculent Scott Hazlewood-Potts copped ten in the bin. The counter attack was on though with replacement forwards Adam Ryan, Matty Appel and big Wal Andrews injecting a bit of mongrel into the mix.
Jamie Stevens was landing some good tackles and Jacob Johnston was catching everything at full back. In the backs Vogt and Hutton were beginning to penetrate the Lismore defence. Then deep in attack off the back of a scrum quick from Siamoa to Nichols for a cut out pass to Wal Andrews on the burst caught the Lismore defence flatfooted and narrowed the gap to eight points. The Shiners had the better of the last fifteen but dropped ball at crucial stages prevented a comeback victory, with Lismore prevailing 15–8. If the intensity of this game is any gauge, games two and three are must sees.
The Shiners are at home this week to Evans with a 2pm kick off at Bruns – and a reminder, tickets are selling fast for the Shiners 25th anniversary dinner at Bruns Bowlo on August 10. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased from the Bowlo during business hours.