Story & photo John Campbell
It’s not easy for a footy team to exude confidence when its hopes of participating in the finals have virtually gone down the drain. Nor does it make it any easier when numerous injuries to A-graders mean that youngsters from the Under-18s have to back up immediately after fulfilling their own duties – for Mullumbimby, against a hoary old outfit like Casino, it was a case of sending boys on a man’s errand. And the result was not entirely unexpected.
Dark at five o’clock, it was cold enough to freeze the brass off a bald monkey at Les Donnelly Field on Saturday as the Giants fought a tenacious but doomed battle against the Cougars in their Round 10 NRRRL clash. The final score of 56–12, however, is not indicative of the effort they made, for the visitors ran in a welter of tries in the dying stages when all any of us wanted to do was curl up on the lounge with the cat and a balloon of Napoleon brandy.
It has to be noted, too, that Mullumbimby RLFC is a victim of its own success. As a proud and prolific nursery of juniors, it has seen three members of its 2012 U18 grand-final-winning side signed on to the South Sydney books (two other former Giants are currently engaged in the English Super League). This is a fine achievement, but the ensuing depletion of ranks has come back to bite the club bigtime this season.
Not that that can be offered as an excuse for poor ball security. Casino kicked off and Mullum spilt the pill in the first play-the-ball. Three tackles after the scrum, the Cougars crossed for their first try and things looked pretty crook in Tallarook.
The Giants always have a dig, however, and with the big Pommie Simon ‘Roger’ Moore leading the way, they bent the maroon defensive line by surging towards the clubhouse end. Robust second-rower Todd ‘Buttermilk’ Arthur made up for an earlier blue with a gutsy try and we all thought ‘well, maybe…’
Home supporters had their hopes dashed as the Cougars extended their lead to 18–6, but Mullum struck back when the wild man Jack ‘Attila’ Govett stormed over. Again, the boys gave the impression that they were in the hunt, and again they were thwarted as Casino scored on the stroke of half-time to lead 22–12 at the break.
The less said about the second forty the better.
Casino took it up a cog and the Giants simply could not go with them. The effort was there, but the class was not, as the Cougars, with quick hands and eager support play, repeatedly shredded Mullum’s defence to find space out wide – their rotund full-back seemed unstoppable in racking-up four tries.
The heart is still beating, but this is clearly a team in desperate need of reinforcements.
The skinny crescent of Ramadan hung high over Chincogan’s black silhouette as the boys trudged disconsolately from the field before abandoned bleachers. Let us hope that their losing fast comes to an end before the moon resumes its full healthy pallor.