Northern United guts it out for win with 12 players
A LATE penalty goal sealed a hard-fought 24-18 win for Northern United over Mullumbimby in Ladbrokes Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League.
It was a big effort from the Dirrawongs, who played the final 35 minutes at Les Donnelly Field, Mullumbimby, today with only 12 men after centre and captain Clarence Kelly was sent off.
Kelly went down hard in a tackle and lashed out by kicking Mullumbimby winger Rhys Carruth in the groin.
It was a tough day for the Giants, who lost centre Michael Thomas and hooker Tim Watkins in the opening minutes through injury.
Front-rower Liam Close didn't finish the first half while halfback Jason McGrady missed the final 20 minutes after a head clash with United lock Alwyn Roberts.
Roberts was bandaged up and stayed on the field to help lead his team to the win along with halfback Evan Hickling and fullback Hezekiah Mackenzie.
It was a win that United needed after they were run down in the final minutes in games against Kyogle and Casino.
"Hopefully this is a bit of a turning point and to our credit we worked hard at training to fix some things,” assistant coach Ashley Moran said.
"It's a big effort playing with 12. Clarence is a star player and leaves a big hole; we'll have to see what happens at the judiciary now.
"The players had extra incentive today playing in honour of Russell Kapeen, who was a founding member of the club.”
The Giants took an 8-6 lead in the first half before a brilliant short ball from Hickling put second-rower James Roberts over for a try.
Another great pass to second-rower Willo James produced the same result and a 16-8 lead early in the second half.
Winger Rhys Carruth was everywhere for Mullum and after setting up its only try in the first half he raced away to the tryline to reduce the margin to 16-12 with 22 minutes to go.
United extended its lead by forcing an error from the kick-off with hooker Jamahl Roberts going over a few players later to make it 22-12.
Carruth was the man again when he broke away to help put fullback Brett Kelly-Wirth over to make it 22-18 with four minutes remaining before Mackenzie nailed a penalty goal in the final minute.
Elsewhere, Casino had a strong win away from home, edging out Murwillumbah 24-22 at Stan Sercombe Oval, Murwillumbah.
Ballina thumped Marist Brothers 46-0 at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.
On Saturday, Cudgen defeated Evans Head 40-10 at Stan Payne Oval, Evans Head, then that night Kyogle won its fourth straight, this time 28-16 over Byron Bay at New Park, Kyogle.