Magpies break title hoodoo

IN the end it was a Northern United player that broke the hoodoo that had denied Lower Clarence a Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League premiership for 26 years at Maclean yesterday.

Magpies' fullback Grant Brown potted a late field goal as Lower Clarence clinched a thriller 21-20 that was also the first time the Magpies had hosted a grand final decider.

But the irony is that Brown, a robust fullback who was close to his side's best, will don the Northern United jersey in two weeks as part of their NSW Aboriginal Knockout Carnival team.

It's a team he has played for over the past three years.

Asked if he felt any mixed emotions for burying his 'other team', and Brown just chuckled.

“The team I play for is the team I put 110 per cent in for,” he said.

“Full credit to Northern United. This was their first year in the competition and they worked hard all year to get where they are today.

“I'll head up their for training next week for sure to check them out and let them know where I'm standing.”

Until Brown's field goal, the scores had been locked at 20-all after the Magpies squandered an 18-8 advantage just after half-time.

The 22-year-old's effort sailed directly between the posts from about 15 metres out, which had most of the 4000 plus crowd in raptures, after United had missed with their own one-pointer as halfback Willie Hammond's shot just sailed wide moments earlier.

Brown had called the move before the set started but had to continually scream as his team-mates kept over-ruling him.

“A million things go through your head, the first thing is to catch the ball, don't take your eyes off the ball, drop it down on the foot and then hope for the best,” he said.

“As soon as I hit it I knew it was sweet. I called it before the set but as usual other players kept calling other plays and I was screaming for the ball, screaming for the ball and I got it, it was unreal to hit it sweet.”

Brown's field goal was the culmination of a fairytale as two uncles and his grandfather had previously played for the Magpies.

It also sent retiring captain-coach Dallas Waters out a winner.

As so often happens in grand finals, someone else's Cinderella story over-rides that of another, in this case Northern United.

It was a bold effort by the Dirawongs considering it was their first season in the NRRRL and coach Chris Binge, captain Alwyn Roberts and everyone involved in the club should look back on 2009 with pride.

In the lower grades, Evans Head came from behind to defeat Mullumbimby 24-22 and in the under 18s, Ballina upset the minor premiers Kyogle 36-12.



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