Mustangs charge forward to win
PLAYING ‘no frills’ football was Macleay Valley’s secret formula for upsetting Woolgoolga 26-18 at Verge Street Stadium on Saturday night.
In a remarkable turnaround from a 42-nil first match drubbing, the Group 2 underdogs were close to flawless before their home crowd, giving new captain-coach Adam McMurray a triumphant homecoming to Kempsey.
The genial prop forward spent last year in neighbouring Group 3 where he won a first grade premiership with the Wauchope club.
“We’re a new side just starting to gel but the thing now is putting it together away from home so we’re always in a winning position,” he said.
“One of biggest strengths is a hard-working pack which you saw in action tonight and with a bit more work, we can make sure they’re effective every week.”
A great individual showing from halfback Mike Flanders helped drive a side which took few risks in possession, rarely dropped the ball and made sure the kick on the fifth had the visitor’s defence scattering
Woolgoola played like a side lacking self-confidence and allowed the Mustangs’ forward pack to set the total agenda.
Many times they looked like getting the mojo working and threatened to go on a scoring spree.
But then they went back into their shells just as momentum appeared to be building, leaving coach Steve Gooley a frustrated man grasping for explanations.
“They played like they were still at training,” he growled. “Half pace ... lack of discipline ... giving away penalties for back-chatting and dropping the ball ... you know, we completed three sets in the first half.
“I said to look in each other’s eye and ask ‘is that the best we can do?’ and they said it was ‘the worst’ and we can only go forward from there.”
Gooley said once the discipline issue was settled and certain other adjustments were made, the side would be back on track fairly quickly.
“Another thing they can’t do is sit back and wait for (Rob) Toshack to win the game for them,” he added. “Individual responsibility makes a winning team effort ... that’s what I’m looking for.”