Rams power over Giants
By ADRIAN MILLER
WISE Kativerata might have scored two tries, while Des Maher, Niko Vakararawa and Brett Archibald were sin-binned in Marist Brothers' 24-12 rugby league win over Mullumbimby yesterday.
But it was touch judge Andy Edgar who stole the show. Edgar spoke to referee Peter O'Connor four times throughout the spiteful encounter, resulting in three sin-binnings and at least four penalties.
Each trip to the middle was warranted, with swinging arms and high shots the order of the day as both teams, who possess a passionate dislike of each other, threw themselves at the opposition particularly in the second half.
The game began politely enough and it wasn't long before Mullum showed why they were in second spot on the ladder heading into the clash.
Brett Archibald, Jay Hampson and Joe Robinson gained easy metres up the middle and with five-eighth Travis Drought having a field day behind his dominant pack, Mullum always looked likely to score first.
They dominated territory and possession for the first quarter of the match, with Brothers hardly getting a look in.
The Giants camped in Brothers' half and every time the Rams looked to relieve pressure or get on top a basic error or silly penalty would ruin their chances.
But for all the pressure Mullum had, they crossed Brothers' line only once in the first half, after a brilliant Drought run set up Hampson.
The Giants went to the break 6-0 up but for all their territory and possession should have been further up.
The second half began with Mullumbimby second-rower Brett Archibald being sin-binned for a high shot and with Mullum reduced to 12 men Brothers started to dominate.
It was while Archibald was in the bin that Brothers nailed their first points of the game, with five-eighth Paul Robinson scoring after some brilliant lead-up work by Kativerata and centre Bart Foster.
The Rams were down 6-4 but they had all the momentum. Des Maher and Luke Scott started gaining metres up the middle and Vakararawa and Kativerata looked dangerous every time they got the ball, but it was huge defence from Brothers that allowed them to wrest control.
It all came unstuck shortly afterwards when Maher and Vakararawa were sin-binned when a scuffle broke out after some big hits from the Rams' defence.
Brothers went from having one more player to two less than Mullum when Archibald returned a few minutes later (and if you thought it was tough for the players, spare a thought for the timekeepers who had five stopwatches on the go), but they were the next to score when Evan Hickling crossed after a Robinson kick rebounded off a Mullum player and into his arms.
Kativerata made it 14-6 a few minutes later after picking up and going himself from the base of a scrum, but when Foster scored from a sublime Kativerata pass the score was 18-6 and Mullum were gone.
Kativerata scored his second shortly after and Mullum's Robbie Wark touched down right on full-time but it was the only time Mullum came near the Brothers line in the second half.
Marist Brothers coach David Krause said the most pleasing aspect of the performance was his side's ability to turn around their poor first half.
"We let ourselves down in the first half and we spoke about doing things differently and hopefully that exceptional second half will give us something we can go forward with for the rest of the year," he said.
"Our forwards have been exceptional all year and I wouldn't swap any of those blokes for anyone in the comp.
"I think we have the best forward pack in the comp and when our backs put in an effort like they did today we're a very good football side, but we still have a lot of work to do.
"We're a good football side but today means nothing if we don't back it up next week."
Mullum coach Damon Scott said his side were their own worst enemy in the second stanza.
"We made some dumb plays and did some stupid things in the second half," he said.
"We played really well in the first half but couldn't bust their line and we talked about working to the game plan, but we just didn't turn up in the second half. We only played for 40 minutes today and you can't win football matches doing that."