Magpies swoop on Mullumbimby
A HUGHIE Stanley inspired Lower Clarence Magpies have broken a 46 year home grand final drought after defeating the Mullumbimby Giants 30-10 in the major semi final at the Maclean Showground yesterday.
This season's Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final will be first time the Maclean Showground has held the decider, offering the Magpies the opportunity to repeat the efforts of the 1984 premiership winning team.
The magnitude of the victory was not lost on a humble Magpies captain/coach, Dallas Waters.
“It's something I'm very proud of ... to be associated with this club,” he said. “It's a credit to our players and all our staff for all the hard work they have put in.
“And to have the first grand final here is an honour.”
From the opening whistle to the full time hooter, the minor premiership winning Magpies looked like a team hungry for action, waving off fears caused by their week long absence from the paddock.
The team's rampant defence was always strong, mistakes were cut to a minium and the attack - led by Stanley - was simply too much for the Giants too handle.
Capping off a brilliant performance with a four try haul, Stanley re-confirmed his status as the league's star centre.
And it was the try predator Stanley who started the ball rolling, dragging three Giants players over the line after steaming onto a flat William Lockwood pass.
However, the early try was followed by a case of jitters, the home side coughing up three sets of six in dangerous positions.
And Mullumbimby are too good to let those sorts of opportunities pass them by - Corey Poole gathering in a cross field kick to reduce the deficit by four.
The Magpies were winning nearly every battle on the paddock but Mullumbimby were showing their determination, muscling up in defence and marking the Magpies' danger men.
So it was a complete surprise to the visitors when the returning Tom Martin bustled his way through from dummy half to score the Magpies second.
The Magpies were in front, but thanks to some controversial decisions by referee Tim Booth, only lead 10-6 at the half time break.
The Magpies were quick out of the blocks in the second stanza, with Grant Brown slotting a penalty conversion but Booth's whistle was starting to fray their nerves.
And after another decision went the way of the Giants, Don Walker fired a response at Booth, receiving a stint in the sin bin for his troubles.
But the Giants failed to capitalise on their man advantage, watching in awe as Waters pulled off a sublime flick pass to send Stanley in for his second.
DJ Eamens crossed out wide soon after but a Magpies walk-over was temporarily adverted when Giants' Chase Nelson intercepted a Matt Michael pass for the easiest of tries.
However, Stanley had the last laugh, latching onto a beautiful chip over the top for his hat-trick, before notching up number four out wide in the corner.