The Macleay Valley Mustangs have already gone above expectations in 2019, as they booked their place in the Group Three Rugby League grand final with a 38-26 victory over the Port City Breakers last Sunday.
The side ended 2018 in disarray, as they were forced to withdraw from the senior competitions and rumors were circulating the club would fold.
Led by Russell Lardner, who took over as coach, the Mustangs turned their fortunes around and brought the regions best players back to their hometown club.
The journey has been a difficult one and in the lead up to the big dance, we decided to take a look back at the Mustangs' road to the Group Three Rugby League grand final.
Mustangs defeat defending champions the Port Macquarie Sharks in round two
The Mustangs started the season with a comfortable 38-18 victory over the Old Bar Pirates on the road, but their first real test came in round two.
Macleay Valley were hosting the defending champions, who had lost a few key players from their premiership season but it still proved as an indicator of where the Mustangs were at in their rebuild.
The Mustangs raced out to an early 18-0 lead and later held an advantage of 44-8 before the Sharks crossed for three late consolation tries.
It was a statement victory from the Mustangs as the rest of the competition knew they were ready to push for a spot in the finals.
Mustangs suffer first defeat of season to Wingham Tigers in round four
The Tigers entered the contest having won one of their first three games, but led by former NRL player Mick Sullivan, the Tigers overcame a 16-6 half-time deficit.
Lardner claimed the defeat served as a "wake up call" for the Mustangs and helped them get back on track after a fast start to the season.
It sure seemed that way, as Macleay Valley went on a eight game winning streak following the defeat.
Luck favours Macleay Valley as Wauchope blow chance to win in round six
Wauchope were trailing by one point and received a penalty inside the Mustangs' 20m zone and right in front of the sticks with under a minute remaining.
However, a skewed kick to the right of the posts gifted the Mustangs victory.
To their credit, Macleay Valley had fought back from a 19-6 half-time deficit and Lardner admitted his side was lucky to be in the contest and they should have "beat us by 50".
The victory went a long way in securing the Mustangs' minor premiership.
Mustangs get their revenge on the Wingham Tigers in round 11
The minor premiership was essentially on the line when the Mustangs and Tigers clashed in round 11 as both sides were on equal competition points.
The Tigers had a far superior points differential and Macleay Valley knew they required a victory.
The 31-16 victory put the Mustangs in the driver's seat for the league title and meant they had defeated every team in the competition.
Wauchope knock off Macleay Valley on their home soil in round 13
The Mustangs were one win away from officially clinching the minor premiership with two regular season games remaining but Wauchope stood in their way.
A 30-22 defeat on home soil was disappointing for the Mustangs, as the Blues entered the game on the back of a winless run which stretched back to round eight.
The victory reignited the Blues season, as they are now on a four game winning streak and earned the right to host the grand final.
Mustangs secured the minor premiership in the final round on the back of a 72-11 victory over the Taree City Bulls.
Wauchope knock off Mustangs in major semi-final and earn right to host grand final
The Mustangs had a disrupted week in the lead up to hosting the major semi-final, as Group Three announced they were contemplating moving the grand find destination if they were to win the rights to host the day.
Lardner admitted the decision weighed on the Mustangs in the lead up and throughout the contest, as they suffered a 28-26 defeat.
The Mustangs had opportunities to win the game but neither side was able to trouble the scoring in the final 25-minutes.
Macleay Valley were their own worst enemy as they suffered from unforced errors and ill-discipline.
Mustangs fire in attack to best Breakers and book place in decider
Macleay Valley entered their preliminary final with the Breakers with a world of pressure on their shoulders.
They were the minor premiers and were facing a straight sets exit if they were to lose once again on home soil.
However, on the back of attacking flair and determination in defence, the Mustangs took a 38-16 lead late in the first half before their focus dropped off in the final 12-minutes to allow two consolation tries.
With the Mustangs now into the Group Three grand final, they are one win away from completing a fairy tale turnaround from last season.
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