Story & photo John Campbell
In a nutshell, the Mullumbimby Giants were beaten by a better side in their NRRRL Round 8 fixture at Les Donnelly Field on Sunday.
The final score of 34–14 looks ugly, especially after the previous week’s capitulation at Murwillumbah, but there are always extenuating circumstances in any game of footy. So if the boys had forgotten it, they will have been reminded of one lesson the hard way – you can’t win without the ball.
Having battled every inch of the way to trail by only 14–10 at the break, Mullum simply could not get their hands on the pill when the contest resumed, as the ref blew five penalties to Marist Brothers in ten minutes.
With such a weight of possession, the visitors inevitably crossed and were suddenly more comfortably placed at 20–10.
There was still plenty of time left, but you can never over-estimate the value of momentum – or its loss.
The Giants and their diehard supporters were champing at the bit to get stuck into the Papists but they could do naught in that critical opening stanza.
A couple more penalties followed, one for a head-high tackle (‘he was wrong-footed!’ pleaded a Giants’ supporter from the drinkers’ shed, but it was an old-school coathanger), and then again for giving lip to the ref.
Marist didn’t need further invitation to add to their score and, at 26–10, it was curtains for the blue-and-golds (actually, with the Papists in the same colours, it was a bit like watching Parramatta v Parramatta).
Following the Under-18s’ gutsy 24–20 victory, Mullum started the game promisingly. Keen as mustard and completing their sets, they were well placed early to hoist a towering bomb, only to see it cleanly defused by Marists’ full-back.
He was eighty metres rom the Giants’ line, but he put his head down and only had a hand laid on him when Ethan ‘Hawke’ Anderson, flying from the clouds in his lairy red headgear, landed on him with a classic swan dive – only trouble for Mullum was, the other bloke was already in under the black dot.
When the Papists put their left winger over in the corner, employing the basics of creating an overlap and exploiting it with regulation draw-and-pass, we all feared that it might become a case of ‘by how far?’ for the visitors.
Mullum, however, weren’t to be easily dismissed. Four-pointers to winger Jeremy ‘Irons’ O’Donnell and centre Sean ‘Penn’ Watkins (pictured), who tried hard all day, and a mighty sideline conversion from half-back ‘Mister’ Darcy Earl had the teams at level pegging and the mob in the outer getting very toey.
A sluggish, ill-disciplined start to the second forty condemned the Giants to chasing the game. Another try to O’Donnell, when he scooped on a loose ball after his opposite number had been unceremoniously decked, briefly kept it close at 26–14, but those of us who hoped for the best were living in a fool’s paradise.
For all their endeavour, the Giants are shy of the finesse to take advantage of their opportunities. The grunt is there, and the courage, but the acumen, at this stage (and they are a young, comparatively small outfit) is lacking.