Leader of the pack
By STEVE SPINKS
TWO years ago Chris Farrell was playing second division rugby league with Evans Head.
On Saturday the 19-year-old prop was instrumental for Marist Brothers as the Rams hammered Cudgen 34-10 in the BCU Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League minor semi-final at Crozier Field, Lismore.
Farrell ? along with his fellow front-rowers Tim Tredigo, Simon Andrews and Shaun Coe ? were outstanding as the Brethren stung the Hornets up the middle of the ruck.
It's been a meteoric rise for Farrell.
He was used sparingly off the bench by coach Craig Hodges earlier in the year, but he has now cemented a starting spot.
"It's a luxury having Chris," Hodges said.
"We lost a front-rower to the sin-bin and I knew I could leave Chris on there and he'd do the work of two.
"He's like a lot of the young blokes in our team at the moment.
"They're great to coach. You tell them to do something, they listen, and they apply it in the game."
While one youngster was doing the damage up front, another was wreaking havoc out wide.
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Five-eighth Jake Campbell, another 19-year-old, turned in a mature performance to steer the Brothers attack.
Campbell had a hand in three tries and he shifted to halfback and took over the direction of the team when regular No7 Brent Peterson left the field in the second half with an ankle injury.
"Jake had a great game," Hodges said.
"He hasn't played finals footy since he was in the Under-15s."
In fact it was the try Campbell set up for his older brother Luke Campbell in the 32nd minute that gave the home side the lead they never surrendered.
Before that, the scores were level at 4-all after the combatants traded tries within the first 10 minutes.
The young five-eighth then set up barnstorming centre Graham Smallwood with a smart second-man play that gave Brothers a 16-4 half-time lead.
Just before the break three players were sent to the sin bin ? Cudgen's Travis Falls and Steve Roberts and the Rams' Shaun Coe.
Falls and Coe were sin-binned for fighting, while Roberts was probably lucky to return to the field after he took out Brothers centre Niko Vakararawa late and high after the Fijian flyer had put through a grubber.
But in the end, any controversial refereeing decisions meant little as the Brethren ran away with the match in the second half.
Vakararawa recovered from his heavy knock to score the Rams' fourth try and from then on it was procession with tries to winger Adrian Gooley and a second to Smallwood.
Brothers could well have piled on more points, but Cudgen successfully slowed the game down with a lot of extra work going on in the tackle.
Second-rowers Damien Bryant and Andrew Hamilton and lock Kory Williams were the pick of the Hornets.
Besides the Brothers front-row quartet and Campbell, second-rower and captain Luke Scott continued his great form.
The barrel-chested back-rower has a great knack of being in the right place at the right time and he continually covers any mistakes his team makes.
He leads from the front and it allows youngsters like Farrell and Campbell to follow.
MARIST BROTHERS 34 (Graham Smallwood 2, Rod McFarlane, Luke Campbell, Niko Vakararawa, Adrian Gooley tries; Adrian Gooley 5 goals) d CUDGEN 10 (Kory Williams, Travis Falls tries; Nick Mobbs goal). Half-time: Brothers 16-4. Penalties: 8-all.
DESPITE four tries from winger Troy Smith, Mullumbimby were knocked out of the reserve grade finals by Murwillumbah 28-22.
Smith, who played his share of first grade this season, has lightning pace and has a habit of turning half chances into tries.
But in the end it was the superior boot of Murwillumbah's Peter Weaver, who landed six goals, that ended the Giants' season.
MURWILLUMBAH 28 (Mick Ashburn 2, Ricky Willis, Kevin Bodley tries; Peter Weaver 6 goals) d MULLUMBIMBY 22 (Troy Smith 4 tries; Corey Strickland 3 goals).
KYOGLE'S Walker brothers decimated Ballina in the Under-18 minor semi-final as the Turkeys continued their dominance over the Seagulls 40-10.
Last year Shannon and Michael Walker engineered a late comeback that netted Kyogle the Group One Under-18 premiership over Ballina.
Yesterday, the Turkeys just simply ran away with the match with Michael scoring three tries and Shannon one other.
Shannon could have scored a second but he unselfishly unloaded to good mate Steve Lamond over the tryline.
KYOGLE 40 (Michael Walker 3, Shannon Walker, Will Mathews, Ryan Daley, Steve Lamond tries; Craig Simpson 6 goals) d BALLINA 10 (Josh Peterson, Ben Crawford tries; Ben Crawford goal).