A COUPLE of years ago Macleay Valley Mustangs Rugby League Club struggled to get one team into the semi-finals – wind forward to 2012 and all three teams have a great chance of bringing a premiership title home.
The club has recorded one of its best competition seasons to date, with two minor premierships - in the under-18s and reserve grade - while the first grade side finished third on the ladder.
They are the clear-cut club champions for 2012, for the third time in the club’s history.
They hosted the Sawtell Panthers and the first grade encounter was close at stages, but Mustangs never looked in doubt producing a 42-32 win.
Club president Mike Spalding praised each and every player for their performance on Sunday.
“They are all peaking and are playing with a lot of confidence,” he said.
“The feeling we had after the first two games this year when we were flogged is completely gone.
“We will never get an opportunity like this again and we need a lot of support from the local community.
“It has taken two years to get to this stage and I am very proud.
“You work all year for this. The whole community should be extremely proud of the players who are great ambassadors of the game and the Macleay community.
The game . . .
First grade had the momentum going into their encounter with Sawtell after under 18s won 34-10 and reserve notched up a 48-22 win.
The first 15 minutes of the game belonged to Mustangs who scored three tries. Forward Steven Walker powered his way over the line in the third minute of the match to give the home side an early 6-0 lead.
Over the next 10 minutes winger Nathan Davis crossed twice and the Mustangs raced away to a 16-0 lead with Anthony Cowan successfully kicking two conversions.
Sawtell hit back with a try to Troy Robinson in the 19th minute to make it a 10-point ball game, 16-6.
Sensational five-eighth Mal Webster extended Mustangs lead to 20-6 with a try in the 31st minute.
The Mustangs went to sleep in the final five minutes of the first half and Sawtell took advantage with two quick tries to Nathan Davies (36th) and Nick English (38th). The halftime score was 20-16.
The Mustangs are known for scoring quickly and that was the case at the start of the second half with number 7 Shay Moran finding the line two minutes into the half.
Webster crossed for his second of the day in the 56th minute to give Mustangs a 32-16 lead.
The final 20 minutes saw five more tries scored, three to Sawtell and two to Mustangs.
Nathan Davis made it a hat-trick and forward Sam Howe scored a well-earned try in the 75th minute.
For Sawtell Robinson scored a hat-trick while Brad Hurt Scored his first in the 70th minute.
The final score was 42-32.
This weekend the Mustangs will take on second placed Woolgoolga in the major semi-final. The winner will go on to play minor premiers Nambucca Heads, and battle for the first spot in the grand final.
The loser of the major semi-final will play the winner of the minor semi-final.
Group 2 draw
Minor Preliminary Semi-final (Fourth and fifth play in each grade)
Saturday, August 18 -
Rex Hardaker Oval, Sawtell .
Sawtell v Bellingen Valley-Dorrigo
Macksville v Port Macquarie
Port Macquarie v Coffs Harbour
Major Preliminary Semi-Final (Second and third play in each grade)
Sunday, August 19 - Woolgoolga Sports Ground
Woolgoolga v Macleay Valley Mustangs
Woolgoolga v Sawtell
Macksville v Nambucca Heads