Hot and Brothered
By STEVE SPINKS
ROD McFarlane is supposed to be a second-rower.He could have fooled everyone at Oakes Oval, Lismore, yesterday.
The flying Marist Brothers winger scored two tries and proved a handful as the Brethren knocked out Mullum-bimby 26-16 in a tense Bananacoast Credit Union Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League elimination final.
McFarlane, an Inverell junior, has played most of his football in the backrow, but he answered an SOS from Brothers coach Craig Hodges earlier this season.
"He spent a bit of time in Sydney, but he's from Inverell," Hodges said.
"He's at uni here and he told me he was a back-rower at the start of the year.
"But we have 100 back-rowers and I told everyone that we were a bit short in the outside backs.
"He put his hand up and he's worked hard. He's done very well."
McFarlane scored the opening try of the match after a great cut-out pass from halfback Brent Peterson.
It was his straight-running style that helped him get across the line.
Many wingers try to step their way through a converging defence, but McFarlane simply puts his head down and takes on the cover.
His second try, which wrapped up the match in the final four minutes, was similar.
While McFarlane provided plenty of excitement for the crowd with two tries, a host of strong runs and some entertaining catching of the high ball above his head, AFL style, it was Brothers second-rower and captain Luke Scott who led the way.
Scott showed his true worth to the Rams effort.
The former North Queensland Cowboy NRL player provided his side with a mountain of yardage, including a great try, and his scrambling defence saved the Brethren's cause on a number of occasions.
Prop Chris Farrell and lock Alan Campbell were other notable performers for the victors.
With the forwards doing the job up front, halfback Brent Peterson and five-eighth Jake Campbell combined well to give Brothers direction in attack.
Scott's try, which was set up by hooker Scott Gibson, gave Brothers a 12-0 lead mid-way through the first half.
However, Mullumbimby hit back through fullback Tim Abbott, one of their best, just before the break.
Two minutes into the second half, massive Brothers prop Tim Tredigo muscled his way through some poor defence to score, which gave the home side a commanding 18-6 lead.
The Giants hit back with 20 minutes to play with a try to centre Glen Godbee, but the Rams replied with a neat try to five-eighth Jake Campbell, which was set up by Peterson.
Again Mullum closed with a try to Godbee and there was a sniff of an upset at 22-16.
But McFarlane sealed the match with his second try with four minutes remaining.
Mullumbimby coach Dave Latta was disappointed with a number of contentious calls by the match officials, none more so than a disallowed Giants try in the 11th minute before there had been a score.
However, he admitted that his side made too many mistakes to put the well-drilled Brothers machine away.
Typifying the Mullum-bimby effort was second-rower Craig Abbott.
Abbott turned in a whole-hearted display and, along with Tim Abbott, was the Giants' best, closely followed by lock Paul Mitchell, hooker Bernard Browning and back-rower Mitch Morris.