Mittagong Lions’ hard-fought victory | PHOTOS

The Mittagong Lions have recorded a win on the opening day of the Group 6 Rugby League season, but it wasn’t an easy win over their rivals Moss Vale.

The Dragons, back in First Grade after several years out of the competition, hosted the Lions in the local derby, in front of large and vocal home crowd at Community Oval.

The home side charged out of the gates, and scored the first try of the season after only a matter of minutes.

Big front rower, and new cult hero, Francis Tuigamala, crashed over to the delight of the vocal supporters.

Moss Vale doubled their lead minutes later, when halfback Nathan Price scored, and the Dragons skipped out to a 12-0 lead with just 8 minutes gone on the clock.

However, Mittagong, with coach Dan Beardshaw barking instructions from the sideline, worked their way back into the game, on the back of structured possession and territory, which saw them reply in kind.

Mittagong centre Tim Townsend, who had a big day on the Lions’ right-hand side, scored the first of his hat-trick after 15 minutes.

Lions’ wingers Hayden Wallace added his name to the scorer’s sheet on 24 minutes, after halfback Jake Isedale scored for the visitors, making many of the fans in attendance quite nervous.

Townsend completed his treble with tries on 30 and 39 minutes, sending Mittagong to the rooms at halftime with a 26-12 lead.

Moss Vale’s captain/coach, Jeco Makatoa, would have asked his players for more focus in defence in the second half, while Beardshaw would have reminded his players to continue working after the break.

Mittagong forward Adam Jeffery, playing in the unaccustomed role of front row, scored 5 minutes after halftime, extending the Lions’ lead.

Moss Vale replied to the try through backrower Mikaera Ormsby, who worked hard all afternoon, and was rewarded with a try in his new colours.

The final score of 54-22 doesn’t really reflect the sort of game played, with Moss Vale being determined all day, and their continued effort will please coach Makatoa, and assistant Nathan Price.

Mike Shean, Group 6 Rugby League

Mittagong added another three tries in quick succession, with winger Daniel Donnelly, hooker Jake Merceica, and centre Regan Economos all scoring for the visitors.

Late tries were scored by Moss Vale fullback Shane Khouiss, who was lively all afternoon at the back for the Dragons, and Mittagong replacement Ben Powell.

The final score of 54-22 doesn’t really reflect the sort of game played, with Moss Vale being determined all day, and their continued effort will please coach Makatoa, and assistant Nathan Price. Mittagong coach Dan Beardshaw will be relieved to have the two points, knowing his side wasn’t at their best, and were forced to really apply themselves all afternoon for the win.

- Mike Shean, Group 6 Rugby League