Mustangs hit stride in Shield

MURWILLUMBAH will take on Northern United in the Ballina RSL Club Charity Shield final next weekend after thrashing Mullumbimby 30-0 yesterday.

That win, coupled with Byron Bay's forfeit the previous week, put the Mustangs in second position on the pre-season competition ladder, behind United.

Mullumbimby matched Murwillumbah in the early stages of yesterday's encounter, restricting the Mustangs to a 6-0 lead at the break.

However, the Mustangs hit their stride in the second half to run in 24 unanswered points.

“I was really pleased with our defence, it was spot on and Mullum obviously didn't cross the line,” coach Troy McLean said.

“It was a real team effort.”

Second-rowers Corey Maher and Luke Covell were among the standouts for the Mustangs.

Covell, a winger in his days with the Cronulla Sharks, has the size to be a forward and McLean said the NRL veteran enjoyed his time in the middle.

Cudgen didn't make the top four of the pre-season competition – judged on for and against over two rounds – but was impressive in victories over Marist Brothers (10-4) and Tweed Coast (23-6).

Hornets fullback Shannon Murphy starred in his first game of 2011 against the Raiders, scoring two superb tries.

A young and enthusiastic Raiders outfit, led by five-eighth Matt Riddle tested Cudgen during the match, but the Hornets defence was too good.

With five regular first graders missing, including captain-coach Craig Field, the Hornets are looking the real deal early in the season.

Tweed Coast, which is in a rebuilding year after a disappointing 2010, won its first game, downing Mullumbimby 12-10.

The finals will be played at Crozier Field, Lismore, with Grafton Ghosts and Grafton Rhinos playing off for third.

In the under-18 Charity Shield, Grafton Ghosts and Casino RSM will playoff for first, while Murwillumbah and Casino RSM compete for third.

Meanwhile, Cudgen Hornet reserve grade and Northern United played out a grand final rematch at Ned Byrne Field yesterday, with the Hornets once emerging victorious, winning 32-20.



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