Late try ruins Rams
By STEVE SPINKS
MULLUMBIMBY winger Chad Grant snatched a late try to help propel the Giants into the Retravision Northern League grand final with a nail-biting 8-0 victory over Marist Brothers at Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby, yesterday.
Grant was on the end of a great piece of thinking by centre Jamie Coote, who looked like he would score, reached out to do so, realised he would be short and instead rolled the ball back to Grant, who picked up the loose ball to touchdown.
It was a split-second decision by Coote, one in which he changed the course of the match and set up a grand final appearance against Ballina on Sunday.
At the time the Giants led 4-0, a slender lead that looked as though it might be gobbled up by the fast-finishing Brethren.
"I jumped up because I thought he (Coote) was going to score," Mullum coach Damon Scott said.
"Then I realised he hadn't, then Chad scored."
While Scott was doing his impersonation of a jack in the box, referee Peter O'Connor ruled the try.
It meant Brothers had to score twice in the last 10 minutes - a feat they couldn't accomplish.
Before Grant's try it looked like the Lismore team would finish over the top of the Giants.
Mullum led 4-0 at half-time thanks to a brilliant piece of work by five-eighth Travis Drought and fullback Murray Brown in only the third minute.
Brown gathered a clever Drought cross-field kick to score and from there it was all Mullumbimby.
The Rams ventured into the home team's quarter only once in the first 40 minutes and that attacking raid ended with an intercept.
However, the Brothers defence pounded away at the Mullumbimby attackers despite having to repel raid after raid because of continual mistakes in their own half.
At one point, Brown looked like he had scored his second try after sensationally fielding asoaring bomb by Drought.
However, O'Connor ruled that lock Damien Bryant was off-side and had encroached inside the 10 metres.
While Mullum held sway for the first half, it was a complete contrast in the second.
Momentum swung to Brothers with their big forward pack taking charge and the Rams starting to exploit some space down the left-hand side of the Mullum defensive line.
However, a combination of courageous defence and poor handling continually let the home side off the hook.
An example that set the tone for the rest of the match was prop Simon Andrews' effort in the 52nd minute.
Andrews found himself only having to draw and pass to release centre Dylan Coleman, who was unmarked, to the tryline.
However, winger Jy Hitchcock flew at the big forward and pressured him so that he threw a poor pass that landed at Coleman's feet and the centre subsequently knocked on.
There were numerous other chances that Brothers botched, but you had to admire Mullumbimby's defensive effort that kept bundling the Lismore team either into touch or into error.
"I've watched a lot of footy over the years but that is one of the best defensive efforts I've seen," Scott raved.
"The boys showed tremendous heart out there."
Scott singled out lock Damien Bryant and his forward pack for special mention, but centre Joel Christie and winger Jy Hitchcock should also be commended for their last ditch efforts that saved at least three tries on Mullumbimby's left-hand side.
The Northern League player of the year, Luke Scott, was Brothers' best along with Andrews, prop Tim Tredigo and lock Wise Kativerata.
MULLUMBIMBY 8 (Murray Brown, Chad Grant tries) d MARIST BROTHERS 0. Half-time: 4-0. Penalties: Brothers 8-7. Referee: Peter O'Connor.
Kicking the key
THE boot of Murwillumbah's Jason Bain proved the difference in the reserve grade preliminary final as the Mustangs cruelled any chance of the Giants having three sides in the grand finals with a 12-8 victory.
Both sides scored two tries, but Mullumbimby failed to convert either attempt.
Bain slotted two shots to give Murwillumbah the 12-8 win. MURWILLUMBAH 12 ( Mick Anderson, Aaryn Bonomi tries; Jason Bain 2 goals) d MULLUMBIMBY 8 (Scott Hogan, Corey Poole tries). Centres star
MULLUMBIMBY'S Under-18s will join the first grade team on grand final Sunday after the youngsters toppled Tweed Coast 26-16 in their semi-final.
The Giants' centres led the scoring with Dane Chisholm crossing for two tries, while Steve Carsons scored a try and kicked five goals.
Mullum's win sets up an enticing grand final decider with Marist Brothers, who defeated the young Giants only with a field goal in golden point in the major semi-final.
MULLUMBIMBY 26 (Dane Chisholm 2, Steve Carsons, Dallas Wedd tries; Steve Carsons 5 goals) d TWEED COAST 16 (Dylan Jordan, Yula McEnrady, Anthony Florens tries; Adrian Hutton, Mitch Fredricks goals).
The big day
GRAND finals at Ballina next Sunday
First grade: Ballina v Mullumbimby
Reserve grade: Ballina v Murwillumbah
Under-18s: Marist Brothers v Mullumbimby