It?s simple for Simon
By STEVE SPINKS
AFTER two years on the fringes, Marist Brothers rugby league prop Simon Andrews may have finally cemented a starting position in first grade.
That's if his performance yesterday against Mullumbimby in the second round of the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League competition is anything to go by.
Andrews and fellow front-rowers Tim Tredigo and Chris Farrell inspired the Brethren to a bruising 34-12 win over the Giants at Crozier Field, Lismore.
But it was Andrews who led the way.
The 22-year-old Woodlawn teacher was outstanding, scoring a try and having a hand in another, as well as being a study in perpetual motion in defence and attack.
There is something extremely honest the way the Tenterfield-born prop plays the game.
"I'm getting a good go," Andrews said of his game time this year.
"I've never been first choice here, but I had a big off-season."
Andrews broke into first grade two seasons ago, but he was used more as a bench player and as a cover for injured regulars.
Last year a knee injury kept him out of the first half of the season and he battled to regain full fitness.
But this year under new coach Craig Hodges, Andrews looks comfortable in the top grade.
"He works super hard," Hodges said.
"His work ethic and enthusiasm is just great.
"He's earned his start."
It was the go-forward provided by the Brethren's big men including Andrews, Tredigo, Farrell and second-rower Luke Scott that set up the victory.
But it wasn't until the 56th minute with a lead of 24-12 that Brothers looked comfortable.
Mullumbimby, led by second-rower Craig Abbott and prop Adam McKenzie, defended capably and led 12-10 at half-time after being behind 10-0 after only eight minutes.
It fell to a flash of sparkling individual brilliance from Brothers' Fijian-born centre Niko Vakararawa to finally put the home team in front.
With the second half only minutes old, the Rams put up a bomb 45 metres from the Giants' tryline.
The ball went only about five metres forward but it was not taken by the Mullumbimby cover.
Vakararawa toed through the loose ball and picked it up as it looked as though he would be bundled into touch.
However, a last-minute no-look flick pass to winger Adrian Gooley set up a brilliant try.
It pushed the Rams in front to a lead they never surrendered.
Further tries to halfback Brent Peterson, fullback Nathan Tolley, lock Luke Campbell and two to Gooley, which completed a hat-trick of tries for the winger, sealed the victory.
Besides the big Brothers forwards, Peterson and hooker Scott Gibson were other players to stand out.
Mullumbimby were their own worst enemy.
The scoreline doesn't accurately reflect the intensity to which the Giants matched the Rams, but it does reflect their poor ball security.
MARIST BROTHERS 34 (Adrian Gooley 3, Simon Andrews, Brent Peterson, Luke Campbell, Nathan Tolley; Adrian Gooley 3 goals) d MULLUMBIMBY 12 (Paul Latta, Tim Abbott tries; Chase Nelson 2 goals). Half-time: 12-10 Mullumbimby. Penalties: 9-7 Mullumbimby.
Reserve grade: MULLUMBIMBY 28 (Joel Christie, Nathan Devine, Mitch Lambert, Lee Funnell, Dan Woods tries; Luke Butler 4 goals) d MARIST BROTHERS 22 (Scott Laffey, Brendan Randall, Jason King 2 tries; Brendan Randall 2, Jason King goals).
Under-18s: MARIST BROTHERS 22 (Ben Wright, Daniel Anderson, Richard Forster, James Roberts tries; Trent Clark 3 goals) drew with MULLUMBIMBY 22 (Sam Roberts, Robbie Wark, Cody Nelson, Jeremy Dailha tries; Wade Kelly 3 goals).