League of Giants
By STEVE SPINKS
DAVE LATTA knew during a training session in early January that Mullumbimby had a rugby league team that was premiership material. It was a piping hot 38 degrees. There was not a football in sight as Latta called the shots for a gruelling hill session. Not only did the Mullum-bimby footballers bust themselves running up the hill, but 46 players turned up ? and kept turning up and kept turning up.
Fast forward eight months and Mullumbimby have claimed their first Westlawn Finance Group One premiership after a thrilling 14-12 victory over Marist Brothers at Les Donnelly Field, Mullum-bimby, yesterday. They did it by turning up again and again in the defensive line.
In fact, with the last play of the grand final, the Brethren launched a fierce drive that could have won them the game and the premiership. However, Rams second-rower Damien Bryant was bundled into touch just short of the tryline by five desperate Mullumbimby defenders who turned up at the last moment.
"I said to Kim (Latta's wife) after that training session 'I've got a bunch of committed blokes'," Latta said. "I thought we were a chance to do something and you never know until you try. "It was an ugly game, but that was some courageous defence." Brothers coach Owen King had nothing but praise for Latta, a former clubmate and a good friend.
"They've been the hot side all year," he said. "I'm happy for Dave . . . he's a good mate, and I'm sure he would have been happy for me if we'd won."
Mullumbimby second-rower Jay Hampson picked up the player of the grand final award for a non-stop performance.
He was the only Giants forward who consistently got over the advantage line.
Hampson was well supported by lock Mitch Morris, second-row partner Anthony Penticost, replacement Sean Doherty, five-eighth Scott Hogan and centre Glen Godbee.