By ADAM WRATTEN firstname.lastname@example.org
FULLBACK Shannon Murphy's hat-trick of tries ensured the Mustangs booked the club's first home grand final with a comprehensive 34-12 victory against Marist Brothers yesterday.
The win sets up an all-Tweed clash next week when Murwillumbah take on minor premiers Seagulls at Stan Sercombe Oval.
Importantly, it guarantees a bumper crowd, expected to be between 6000 and 8000 people, will be on hand for the inaugural Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final.
Yesterday's win came on the back off the Mustangs' solid defensive performance and improved ball control in attack.
Coach Con Theodossiou's ploy to inject size from the interchange bench to counter Marist Brothers' big pack worked.
Theodossiou thanked the fans yesterday.
"When the boys saw those grandstands choc-a-bloc full ... it was a big factor in the win," Theodossiou said of the 2000-plus crowd.
"I always thought it was going to be tough against Marist Brothers and I don't think the scoreline indicated how tough this game was.
"Credit must go to Marist Brothers, they kept coming all game and never gave up."
The Lismore-based club opened the scoring when winger Adrian Gooley kicked the first of his two goals in the 10th minute.
Murphy then got his first try three minutes later, finishing off a good play to score out wide.