Hornets end their drought
By BOB ANTHONY
UNDER threatening skies and in front of a large crowd, the Cudgen Hornets stung the Murwillumbah Mustangs with a surprise victory to claim the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final 19-16 at Stan Sercombe Oval in Murwillumbah yesterday.
In a fitting end to the season and the day, the two A-grade sides turned on a gripping display of rugby league which went down to the final minutes of the match as Murwillumbah fought back to almost steal the game.
Cudgen, whose under-18s had lost their grand final against Marist Brothers earlier in the day, showed plenty of resolve in defence to hold out the rampaging Murwillumbah forward pack and were able to mount plenty of pressure of their own, particularly in the second half.
In a carnival-like atmosphere, the colourful crowd, which eclipsed last year's attendance figures, witnessed both sides battle to gain the upper hand with some punishing defence and enterprising attack.
But it was to be Cudgen's day, claiming their first A-grade premiership since 1988.
Cudgen captain Damien Bryant, who led by example all afternoon, said the win was a fantastic reward for all the hard work his side had put in during the year.
"I said to the boys that all we needed was some self-belief and faith in each other and that would get us there," Bryant said.
"Our defence on the day was outstanding ? oh, mate, it's such a great feeling!"
He paid tribute to Murwillumbah, who never stopped trying and pushed the Hornets all the way.
For Murwillumbah, the loss was also the last game under the guidance of coach Con Theodossiou, who retired after the match.
While it looked as though it would rain at the ground, the heavens waited until after the presentations before rain finally came.
But just a kilometre away at the Murwillumbah Showgrounds, a heavy downpour forced the cancellation of the Murwillumbah Motorcycle Club race meeting.
In lower grade grand final results, Ballina soundly defeated Mullumbimby 44-10 while in the controversial under-18 grand final, Marist Brothers defeated a depleted Cudgen side 30-10.