Giants scramble into top four spot
MULLUMBIMBY held off a fast-finishing Marist Brothers 20-14 to leapfrog the Rams and land a spot in the top four on Saturday.
The Giants flew out of the blocks to lead 20-0 after just a quarter of the match, but for the second week in a row Brothers kept their opposition scoreless in the second term as they mounted a comeback.
Three second half tries got the Rams in a position to strike, but they faltered at the final hurdle attacking the Giants’ line until the death.
Giants’ halfback Chase Nelson seemed to have the ball on a string as he ran riot in the opening exchanges, but it was a rare try-scoring double to prop and captain Jarred Flick that was the difference for Scott Hogan’s men.
“Jarred has scored more tries this year than in his whole life,” Hogan said.
The two-time NRRRL player of the year rated the first-half performance as the “best 40 minutes Mullum had played in a long time”.
For Brothers, Dylan Coleman made a solid comeback to the fold, scoring a try and drawing plenty of attention from the Giants’ defence.
On Sunday Ballina remained one of only two undefeated teams after four rounds, overcoming a crippling injury toll to slam Lower Clarence 56-12 in Yamba.
Andrew Battese, playing his first full game at halfback, bagged 24 points of his own courtesy of two tries and a radar-like eight-from-10 shots at goal.
The Seagulls were forced to play the second 40 with just 13 men after losing Abe Crawford, Dean Ihalainen, Simon Perkins (all shoulder) and Dane Clarke (ankle) to injury in the opening stanza.
A 28-0 buffer at the break looked under threat when the Magpies scored the first two tries of the second-half, but the Seagulls found their feet again to run away.
Chris Dooley grabbed his chance to start at the back with both hands, scoring twice and making countless breaks in the flimsy Magpie defence.
Prop Jason Clarke was another standout for the unbeaten side – he played 80 minutes after being knocked out early, not that he can remember any of it.
The injured men are expected to be fit for their round five clash, though young Clarke could miss a few weeks.
Elsewhere Northern United edged out Byron Bay 32-30, Murwillumbah beat cellar-dwellars Tweed Coast 26-8 and Cudgen kept its good form rolling by getting the points against Evans Head 32-28.