The Macleay Valley Mustangs first grade side suffered their first loss of the Group Three Rugby League season on Sunday, falling 34-22 against the Port City Breakers, but they won the praise from the crowd.
The Mustangs relied on their young and inexperienced players to step up as they were without a couple of key forwards, including captain-coach Dennis Ritchie and Viliame Tobesewa.
“They (Mustangs) knew they were heading into a tough match against a strong opponent and despite being down on troops they had good spirits,” Mustangs secretary Bruce Cain said.
“They may not have won but they won a lot of the crowd with their playing style and their refusal to give in – they played with heart for the entire match.”
The Mustangs opened the scoring in the first few minutes after a clever cross field kick landed in the hands of Ed Cowan.
The match was a good tussle for the following 20-minutes, before the built up pressure on the Mustangs line resulted in the Breakers levelling the score at six-points.
The Mustangs were rewarded for a strong opening half as they crossed in the final minutes to take a 10-6 advantage into the break.
The lead didn’t last long as the Breakers exploded early in the second half, crossing for four straight tries to take a commanding 28-10 lead into the final 20 minutes of the game.
“The Breakers could have ran away with it but the Mustangs dug deep to put themselves back in the match,” Cain said.
Stephan Blair and Jeremy Taylor put their names on the scorers sheet to reduce the deficit to 28-22.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs they weren’t able to complete the comeback, as the Breakers sealed the match with a late try.
The Port City Breakers are now the only undefeated team left in the first grade competition while the Mustangs hold onto second position on the ladder.
The U18.5s earned a 26-14 victory over the Breakers while reserve grade and ladies league tag were defeated.
The Mustangs return home to take on the Forster-Tuncurry Hawks on Sunday, first grade kicks off at 3.15pm.