The record books will have Murwillumbah giving Mullumbimby a 34–4 shellacking at Les Donnelly Field on Sunday. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Premiers in 2012 and runners-up last season, the Mustangs came stampeding into town with an unbeaten record and, after racking up handsome victories in the under-18s and the reggies, things looked less than rosy for the home side as the A-graders emerged from the sheds. Things went from ominous to dire when the Giants knocked-on from the kick-off and presented the visitors with a gilt-edged invitation to apply the blowtorch to their belly.
They compounded the error by conceding a penalty and Mur’bah would have been too embarrassed not to score. They did when a chip rebounded into their left-winger’s arms for a fluky try – but they all count, regardless of how you get them.
So we started over, albeit with the Giants behind 0–4.
As the game settled, so did Mullum. They took it to their more fancied opponent and, with the mob behind them, were winning the grind. The Mustangs could find no way through a swarming defence and, unable to get far out of their own territory, it came as no surprise when, profiting from a repeat set of six, the Giants’ five-eighth Chase Nelson shot an inside ball to a rampaging Jack Govett who, now that he has finally been able to grow a beard, like his fellow second-rower, Sean Watkins, was unstoppable.
Unfortunately, the Giants spilt the pill from the resumption, a blunder that proved immediately costly when the Mustangs’ #6, Jake Lennon, putting on a command performance, sold a Brooklyn Bridge dummy and strolled in under the black dot untouched. It was typical of the afternoon’s activities – Mullum made the costly errors, Mur’bah took advantage of them. Composure counts for a lot in footy, and it was all with the Mustangs.
They scored again from a neat grubber, after which calamity struck for the Giants. Reacting like a hanging judge, the ref gave Grant Cook an early shower after a head-high that perturbed its victim not in the least. Mur’bah are a tough outfit, and they don’t need the advantage of an extra man to state their case.
Compounding the locals’ angst, with oranges about to be taken, a Mustang knocked-on, pure and simple. A Giant retrieved the ball and set sail for the tryline, with nobody in front of him. To everybody’s consternation – and fury – the ref, not bothering to call advantage, brought play back to set a scrum, with a Mullum feed. It may not have altered the outcome of the contest, but going to the sheds only ten behind instead of sixteen would surely have lifted the boys’ spirits.
Soon after the re-start, the Giants lost Nelson to injury, further disrupting their alignments, and Mur’bah showed a bit of class by scoring a length-of-the-field try in which the ball passed through countless pairs of hands – credit where it’s due, it was lovely to watch.
The rest went according to the script of one side a man down pitted against a quality outfit.
Mullum never turned it up, but neither were they ever really in the hunt.
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