Story Dean Trevaskis
With a who’s who of club legends in attendance, glorious sunshine and celebration in the air, the Mullumbimby Moonshiners went toe to toe with Lismore in a battle for the minor Premiership. Ironically it was the same opposition and ref that saw the Moonshine odyssey kick off 25 years ago.
In keeping with tradition, the game was hard, cut lunches were thrown and the faithful gave the man in purple plenty of stick.
Mullum, despite a three-week lay-off, came out swinging from the hip. An inspired Jimmy Pyne running like a wounded bull set up the first try, carrying the ball and a few defenders deep into Lismore territory. Dunc Kendall followed up then offloaded for a clever one-two between the talisman Teale Pyne and the bearded Buddha Jarad Hicks.
When Lismore attacked the defence was staunch. Finesse was backed up with grunt as Jacko Lewin and Jimmy P landed bone-jarring tackles.
Duncan Kendall made try-saving tackles twice stopping rampaging props in their tracks.
Veteran Seymour Walters was excellent securing the ball at the breakdown. Lismore were struggling to keep up with the pace of the game and ever-alert half back Nath Nicholls exploited it with a box kick off the ruck, Jimmy Chester chased hard, Lismore’s full back heard footsteps and the intercept was on for a runaway Chester try.
Lismore finally opened their account on the back of a penalty. They turned to the strength of their forwards running the ball tight to the ruck. Persistence paid dividends when a prop charged onto a short ball, spun, twisted and reached to find the line. Mullum countered with Leon, Jimmy P and Jacko punching above their weight with brick-wall tackles.
When the ball spilled loosed Nathan Appel swooped like a Bondi seagull, hit the afterburners and scored under the posts. An exhilarating first half ended with Mullum 12 points up.
Lismore cranked their intensity after the break. It led to Mullum handling errors and poor discipline at the ruck. Careless penalties were crucifying the Mullum momentum and gifting Lismore field position.
The gap was closed to five points when a Lismore second rower gathered unopposed at the back of a line out and strolled through for a soft try. A penalty soon after cut the margin to two. Mullum were struggling to gain purposeful possession and needed someone to stand up.
The inspiration came from Dion ‘DBoss’ Vogt with a 50-metre chase that forced Lismore to scramble the ball into touch close to their own line.
Minutes later from half way Jimmy Chester drew five green jerseys with a power run, then off-loaded to Georgy Andrews to draw the next wave of defence before setting Neon Leon loose on the wing to run through the Lismore full back like a dose of Epsom salts and score his fifth try for the season. When three Shiners broke the line from the restart it looked to be the coffin nailer until a wild pass killed it.
Lismore again built pressure and landed the score-levelling try and conversion with only minutes to go.
From the restart a Mullum infringement had the crowd silent as the ref pointed to the posts. At 24-all Lismore kicked from thirty out near the line, it was sweet off the boot, curling in nicely against the breeze.
Enter the God of Moonshine, just as it looked over it caught an upright and Rick Oshayed back into the of play. The fat lady and a hundred fat blokes on the sideline were singing.
The draw clinched the Minor Premiership, and celebrations for a brilliant 25th Anniversary dinner began.
Congratulations to deserved inductees to Moonshiner Life Membership, Julie Quigley, Glen LeClaire and Matthew Perry.
The Shiners have a bye this week, followed by a home game against Ballina. Come finals time Mullum and Lismore will continue their enthralling battle with form guide reading one and half games each in 2013.