DESPITE a disappointing grand final loss at the weekend, the Muswellbrook Heelers still have plenty to celebrate.
The club’s 2017 season ended at No 2 Sportsground on Saturday, defeated by Easts 1, 17-6.
Coach Mick Hall said while he was quietly confident going into the match, Easts had had the better of Muswellbrook all year.
“They played better and didn’t allow us to play how we wanted,” he said.
“They lost the grand final last year, so they had that grand final experience.”
Hall had expected a better result considering the mix of player experience, with the grand final knowledge of members like Mitchell Googe and Mark Snow providing a competitive edge.
“They’ve played grade grand finals before,” he said.
”Mitchell Googe kicked our six points via two penalty conversions.
”But it wasn’t enough.
”We didn’t step up.”
Hall said there was unfinished business, and the team would sit down and digest what happened.
“They won the contest at the breakdown,” he said.
“We couldn’t get the phase ball.
“I thought we’d work on the breakdown in the few weeks leading up because it was evident in games against other teams we needed to work on it.
“I thought we had done enough.
“The boys were really keen and as a team we defended well, but we didn’t step up like we needed to – and Easts did.
“We got two yellow cards just before half time – that didn’t help.”
While they fell short of the championship title, Muswellbrook’s efforts during the season did not go unnoticed.
Harry Hobden was named the NHRU Divisional Player of the Year.
On top of that, Muswellbrook was crowned the 2017 NHRU Club of the Year, based on a range of criteria, including administration and spirit of the game.
“That’s a real boom for our club to win that considering we were against some very slick [clubs] around Newcastle,” Hall said.
Hall would like to thank the sponsors, players and supporters for a fantastic 2017 season.