The Western Mustangs ended their run of luckless results in the Hastings Deering Colts competition with an impressive 30-12 victory over the Mackay Cutters last Saturday afternoon, breaking a two-month drought.
With chilly conditions greeting both sides, the Mustangs were determined to start strongly in front of their Toowoomba faithful, but a try to Cutters winger Jayden O’Shannessy in the seventh minute appeared to have the hosts destined for yet another slow start.
But after a tough opening quarter, the Mustangs began to show glimpses of their best football when they crossed out wide through winger Christopher Chalmers in the 12th minute before tries to Michael Naseri and Benji Neliman sent the home side into halftime with a 16-4 lead . They were then able to convert their strong first half display into a winning result
Coach Eugene Seddon said it was a just reward for his side's competitiveness throughout the last month of football.
“This year we have been patchy in games … we’ve let a few games slip when we have had the opportunities to get the win so to get a result like that on the weekend was pleasing,” Seddon said.
Whilst the disappointment of a number of close losses had threatened to derail their season, Seddon credited his playing group’s ability to take ownership of their results as being a key factor in their breakthrough on the weekend.
“They’ve put a lot of onus on themselves, so I guess the players have been accountable for where they put themselves and for their present form right now,” Seddon said.
One player who has taken the recent run of poor results personally has been front rower Michael Naseri, with his coach highlighting the barnstorming big man as the key in the weekend’s victory.
“He’s been exceptional over the last month … last week he ran 200m for us in the front row, so he’s probably led the revival for us,” he said.
While the first half of the season may be one to forget for the Darling Downs side, the influx of talent from the Mal Meninga squad, coupled with the renewed confidence gained from the weekends result has the Mustangs heading into the latter half of the year with momentum.
But regardless of results, the simple fact that the Mustangs have a side in the Hastings Deering Colts is a winner for rugby league.
In a region that has boasted the likes of Origin legends Darren Lockyer, Steve Price and current Origin hopeful Ashley Taylor, the wealth of talent available in the Western Ranges is unquestionable.
Seddon believes the Hastings Deering Colts competition is crucial in providing the next wave of elite players with an elite pathway to the NRL.
“There’s nothing west of Toowoomba in terms of high level football so it’s invaluable for these players so they can potentially fulfil their dream one day,” he said.
Despite boasting such rich talent, the Mustangs have struggled to stop the exodus of their best players to other clubs with the likes of 2017 Mal Meninga Cup premiership trio Cory Paix, Travis Turnbull and Brock Diment all playing elsewhere this season to further their opportunities.
Seddon, who coached the trio in their 2017 title success, hopes the reintroduction of an Intrust Super club in the area would not only help keep players in the region, but also establish a clear pathway to the Intrust Super Cup and beyond for players in the Western Corridor.
“To potentially have that (Intrust Super) Cup side would be invaluable, because not only will it expose people to a higher level, but it will keep them at home for longer and give them that solid support base away from footy,” the former Toowoomba Clydesdale said.
The Mustangs will be hoping to continue their winning ways when they travel to Davies Park on Sunday to take on the Souths Logan Magpies at 1.20pm.