THE Muswellbrook Heelers avenged last season’s grand final loss to claim the 2018 Newcastle-Hunter Rugby Union divisional premiership at No 2 Sportsground on Saturday.
After the heart-break of 2017, and being beaten by Easts 1 in the decider, the Michael Hall-coached outfit knocked over the short-priced favourites, The Waratahs, 11-7.
The victory capped off a brilliant month for the Heelers who claimed the scalps of the Singleton Lions, Southern Lakes Hammerheads, Easts 1 and, now, The Waratahs to secure the title.
Muswellbrook led 11-0 via a try to winger Ethan Cridland and a couple of penalties to fullback Dylan Smith.
The Waratahs then only cracked the Heelers in the dying stages to put some respectability into the scoreline.
“We’re stoked,” Hall said.
“There are a lot of happy blokes and a lot of sore blokes.
“Our defence really stood up [today].
“The boys were extremely hungry and I firmly believe that intensity rattled The Waratahs.
“We got off the line well – and shut their plays down.”
Although quietly confident before the fixture, Hall admitted it was still a great feeling to put their highly-fancied rivals to the sword.
“We simply outplayed them,” he said.
“Across the park, everyone did their job.
“I couldn’t be happier for the guys.
“All of them have worked hard in the lead-up to the match.
“Tight head prop Harry Hobden was named player of the match, on the back of Cameron Young winning the Cyril Burke Medal on Friday.
“Left flanker Doug Raphael was fantastic.
“He tackled everything that moved.
“Cameron [Young] and his fly-half partner Mitchell Googe controlled the game, too – the former with the play and the latter with excellent tactical kicking.
“Today’s result certainly makes up for losing to Easts 1, at the same venue, this time last season.”