A field goal to five-eighth Grant Brown two minutes from full-time has given Lower Clarence Magpies a 21-20 win over Northern United in the Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final at Maclean Showground today.
The win gave Lower Clarence their first major premiership since 1984 and completed the minor/major premiership double for 2009.
Lower Clarence led throughout until 10 minutes from full-time, when Northern United’s try-scoring machine, centre Fred Waters, scored. Roy Bell’s conversion levelled at 20-all.
In a frantic final 10 minutes, played flowed from end to end until Brown’s field goal clinched the victory.
But the drama didn’t end there, with a knock-on ruled from the ensuing kick-off and Northern United pressing the Lower Clarence line in the final minute.
Lower’s defence held and denied Northern United a dream win in their first season in the NRRRL.
Adding to Lower’s win was the fact that captain-coach and halfback Dallas Waters left the field five minutes into the second half with a leg injury and did not return.
Lower Clarence led 14-8 at half-time after tries to hooker Sam Woods (five minutes), winger Mikey Randall (15 minutes) and lock Don Walker (30 minutes), and a conversion by five-eighth Grant Brown.
Northern United’s points came from a penalty goal by fullback Roy Bell (11 minutes) and a try to centre Chris Swan (16 minutes) after Lower had knocked on the kick-off following Randall’s try. Bell converted.
Mikey Randall crossed for his second try 15 minutes into the second half and Lower led 18-8.
But great work by Northern United captain Alwyn Roberts sent Roy Bell in after 20 minutes, and the conversion made it 18-14 to Lower Clarence.
A penalty goal to Grant Brown 15 minutes from full-time made it 20-14, but 10 minutes from full-time, Fred Waters crossed and Bell converted for 20-all, setting the scene for an exciting final 10 minutes in which Lower Clarence’s superior defence proved crucial.
In reserve grade, Evans Head, in only their second season in NRRRL reserve grade, beat minor premiers Mullumbimby 24-22.
Ballina Seagulls won the Under-18s, beating minor premiers Kyogle 36-12.
LOWER CLARENCE 21 (Mikey Randall 2, Sam Woods, Don Walker tries; Grant Brown 2 goals, field goal) d NORTHERN UNITED 20 (Chris Swan, Roy Bell, Fred Waters tries; Roy Bell 4 goals).
Reserve grade: EVANS HEAD 24 (Luke Simpson, Terry Kelly, Darren Anderson, Jamie Huttley tries; Elliott Roberts 4 goals) d MULLUMBIMBY 22 (Steve Dusina, Corey Poole, Aaron Cook, Tim Abbott tries; Mitch Lambert 3 goals).
BALLINA 36 (Matt Nean 3, Damien Sironen, Dean Wager, Nat Regueria, Joel Roberts tries; Jirra Breckenridge 3, Nikko Roberts goals) d KYOGLE 12 (Josh Parker, Justin Parker, Brady Creighton tries).