Murwillumbah Mustangs' stunning road to grand final glory
FOR the first time in Murwillumbah's history, all three Mustangs grades will play in this Sunday's grand finals.
First grade will play Ballina in a replay of the major semi-final, while the reserves will meet Casino in a grand final rematch from last year, and the under-18s will face off against Casino, also their opponent from last year's grand final.
All three are coming off minor premierships (also a club first) and club president Nigel Lofts, said the achievements were a testament to the healthy state of the club.
"It's massive, it's huge for all three grades to be minor premiers for the first time in club history," Lofts said.
"We've been pretty close the last couple of years, but to get all three in means consistency which is really good."
While the reserves and under-18s are well placed for victory, the first-grade side has had a tough run with injuries in the past fortnight.
Club stalwart Jonty Van De Scheur went down in last week's preliminary final against Evans Head with a suspected torn ACL, while fellow key player, Dylan Nash, succumbed to a calf injury against Ballina a fortnight ago after an injury- prone year. Neither will take part in Sunday's grand final.
First-grade coach Damien Quinn said that while this was a big loss, the team had good depth and Aaron Enoka would step up for the absent Van De Scheur.
He said despite injuries, his team had found its rhythm and could win on Sunday if everyone performed.
"We need to be focussed on what we need to do," Quinn said.
"They (Ballina) were very good last time we played them but if everyone does their job, we have a really good chance."
Lofts said the club was confident the first-grade side could turn around its fortunes, with players showing they had learnt from their mistakes against Ballina when they put together a solid performance to beat Evans Head last week.
"It was a lapse of concentration against Ballina and they got on a bit of a roll and we were just going backwards," Lofts said.
"On the weekend against Evans, we rectified it with our grinding style of play and our defence was really good."
Lofts said he had a final message for the players of all three grades heading into Sunday's grand finals.
"Good luck from all the staff and supporters, you deserve to be there," he said.
Grand final games kick off at Ballina with the Under-18s at 11am, followed by reserves at 1pm and first grade at 2.45pm, so be there if you can to cheer the sides on.
NRRRL First-Grade Grand Final
Murwillumbah Mustangs v Ballina Seagulls
When: Sunday, September 6 at 2.45pm
Where: Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina.
Murwillumbah Mustangs Key Facts:
Minor Premiers: 2015
Premiers: 2012, runners-up: 2005, 06, 11, 13
Ballina Seagulls Key Facts:
Premiers: 2013, 14
Murwillumbah: 12 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw. Points for: 474. Points against: 245
Ballina: 12 wins, 4 losses 0 draws. Points for: 510. Points against: 189
One win each.
Round 8: Murwillumbah defeated Ballina 24-22
Major semi-final: Ballina defeated Murwillumbah 30-22