Rugby League: Mustangs write new history in Group 3

Footwork: Group Three representative Stephan Blair steps off his left foot during the Mustangs 34-28 victory over Forster-Tuncurry Hawks on Sunday. Photo: Penny Tamblyn.

Footwork: Group Three representative Stephan Blair steps off his left foot during the Mustangs 34-28 victory over Forster-Tuncurry Hawks on Sunday. Photo: Penny Tamblyn.

The Macleay Valley Mustangs had a perfect day on home soil on Sunday, winning all four grades in the Group Three Rugby League competition for the first time since returning to the competition in 2014.

Ladies League Tag started the clean sweep and were the talking point, earning their first victory of the season and knocking off the previously undefeated competition leaders the Forster-Tuncurry Hawks.

They were locked at 4 at the halftime break but a strong second half led to the Fillies claiming a 16-4 win.

The U18.5s 20-6 victory over the Hawks sees them hold onto second position on the ladder while the reserve grade side overcame a six-point half-time deficit to break a two game losing streak with a 34-24 win.

The victories may have given the first grade side a false confidence that they would cruise to victory as coach Dennis Ritchie said his side’s “heads weren’t in the contest”.

“We started off slow and just couldn’t get going at any stage during the match,” Ritchie said.

“The boys were joking around in the sheds beforehand and I was telling them to get serious because I knew the Hawks were going to make it difficult for us.”

The Mustangs were able to earn a narrow 34-28 win to remain in second position on the ladder, but Ritchie was far from pleased.

“It was our worst performance of the season by far, I am glad we managed to come away with the competition points but we will need to change our attitude next week if we are going to beat Wingham on the road.”

The Mustangs opened the scoring after five minutes but the Hawks levelled the scores almost immediately.

The seesawing match continued into the break but the home side held onto a 22-16 lead.

The game was in the balance after each side exchanged tries late in the second half when the Mustangs young Group Three representative Stephan Blair stepped up to the occasion to race 80m to score the match-winning try and his second of the contest with 10-minutes remaining.

Ritchie went down with a hamstring injury in the final minutes of the match and is expecting to miss at least two weeks while Lloyd Russell suffered a broken arm early in the second half which leaves the side without two experienced back-rowers.

It is perfect time for Viliame Tobesewa to slot back into the starting line-up when he returns from a holiday in Fiji while Ritchie is hoping Lionel Lockwood can continue to play at a high level.

“We will need Lionel to make the same impact he has in his last two matches.”

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