After being done at the death by Northern United in Round One of the NRRRL and registering an encouraging win over Marist Brothers at their next start, the Mullumbimby Giants returned to Les Donnelly Field on Sunday for their first home game of the season.
Following a couple of lean years there was a whisper that, under new coach Shane Diehm, the Blue-and-Golds were primed for a serious tilt at the title, meaning that a victory over the Evans Head Bombers was essential to consolidate the boys’ growing confidence. When winger Troy McArthur sprinted down the western sideline and placed the ball under the black dot, it was mission accomplished for the Giants to the tune of 28–6. But it didn’t come quite as easily as the final scoreline might suggest.
Earlier, the reggies had towelled-up the visitors by 32–0 in warm and steamy conditions, but as the A-graders appeared from the sheds there were dirty black storm clouds rolling in from the south and with them a sharp drop in temperature. Suddenly it felt like winter – like real football weather.
Mullum kicked off into a chilly southerly and swarmed over their opponents with high energy but, as is so often the case, penalties awarded to Evans Head relieved whatever pressure the Giants might have been able to build. Instead it was the Bombers who established a territorial advantage – not that they ever looked likely to breach Mullum’s well-organised and totally committed defensive wall. This was a pleasing and constant feature of the Giants’ play, that they were at all times composed, organised and quick to restore their shape if ever it were lost.
At last the ref blew in favour of the Giants and in the ensuing set stocky Jack Govett, who had come off the bench, barrelled over and, with Louis Earl’s conversion, Mullum was ahead 6–0. Centre and captain Tim Abbott put his winger Darcy Earl in not long later and when tall five-eighth handled twice before Earl got another there was a whiff that, at 14–0 at the break, the floodgates might have opened. To the Bombers’ credit, however, they never turned it up.
The second forty was contested in nasty spitting rain and it was the visitors who scored first when their winger gathered a nicely placed chip to his corner. Trailing only 14–6, they were back in it, but a try to Robbie ‘Crazy’ Goodacre restored the Giants’ lead to twelve and with seven minutes to go there was a bit of a harmless stink to get the mob’s blood bubbling.
The young bull Govett, ‘Sunshine’ Jay Hampson and forward leader Dan Molenaar all handled in a surge that resulted in a try full-back for Luke Baker, to whom the Bombers had been kicking high most of the arvo.
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My dad was a man of few words, but he had an expression: ‘what you need is a good kick up the arse’.
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Footy teams strive to make a fortress of their home ground. Playing in familiar surrounds, in front of one-eyed tragics, without having to travel far and wide, is the ideal scenario in rugby league-land.
It’s easy to be a smart arse after the event, isn’t it?