Losing your playmaker before the break always hurts when a game of rugby league enters its desperate hours.
The Mullumbimby Giants faded to be beaten 26–18 by Marist Brothers in their NRRRL clash at Les Donnelly Field, but the result in no way reflects the intensity and closeness of the contest.
Mullum went to the sheds holding a deserved and hard-earned 12–6 lead, but they were already without their classy half-back, Shaun ‘the Horn’ Carney, who had put his body on the line to tackle one of the Papists, only to be knocked senseless.
It was a bitter setback, for only minutes earlier he had scored the opening try of the match. Hooker Jake ‘the Rake’ Wood made a scything burst from dummy-half before finding full-back Matt ‘Munro’ Mulcahy in support, who in turn flicked it on to Carney to set the Giants on their way.
Brothers equalised shortly after, but the arvo was set alight when Aaron ‘Captain’ Cook took an intercept 70 out from Marist’s line and set his ears back. He went like the clappers to begin with, but the chasers were getting closer when he crossed the 20. With the mob in the outer riding him home, Cook found that extra something to make it to the sticks and the crowd went wild.
The Giants had entered the fray with a number of changes to their backline but, significantly, their impressive spine of Mulcahy, Louis ‘the fly’ Earl, Carney and Wood were in place.
A strong start to the second stanza by Brothers was trumped when Dylan ‘Bobby’ Estreich dummied, jinked and threaded his way through the defence to plant the pill under the black dot, but with 20 minutes to go, the 18–10 lead looked fragile.
The boys needed another try, but it was the visitors who got it on the back of repeat sets.
The final stages were dominated by the side with better ball control – and it wasn’t Mullum.
Ordered for most of the game, weariness and disjointedness caused by the loss of Carney told on the boys.
The Giants are next at home on Saturday, June 18, when they take on the Kyogle Turkeys. Be there to back them up.