WORKMENS Club Wolves sit on top of the Group 10 rugby league ladder after their come from behind 36-28 win over Mudgee Dragons at Lithgow and, more importantly, they scored a huge physiological blow over the former competition leaders.
Trailing 28-10 minutes after halftime, Wolves Matt Mizzi started a whirlwind and unlikely comeback with the Wolves scoring 18 points in five minutes to lock up the scores at 28-all and from then on it was all the Wolves.
Mizzi was virtually unstoppable in this period, as he careered his way through the centre of the ruck setting up attacking raids that had the Dragons reeling.
“It was a matter of attitude,” Wolves captain Jonathan Van Veen said.
“In the first half our defence was disgraceful, but once we got some ball and picked up our defence they could not handle us.
“I was starting to get worried
when they scored straight after halftime to go to a 18 point lead, but we didn’t panic and played the football that we knew we could and came away with a great win.”
It was the second time the Dragons had visited Lithgow and gone home empty.
On their first visit, they were blasted off the ground with a first half demolition as the Wolves played some of their best football of the season.
Mudgee looked to have reversed that first round nightmare when they scored in the first five minutes when winger Todd Munn scored the first of his three tries.
Matt Stott converted for a 6-0 lead.
Stott was driving the Wolves back with some astute kicking that kept the Wolves deep in their own territory.
Mudgee lost winger Adam Reeves and hooker Andy Stott early in the game, but this did not seem to worry them as they piled on the points.
The Wolves were at their worst, dropping the ball on the first and second tackle and Mudgee made them pay when centre Corbin Smith went over for their second try to go to a 10-0 lead.
Wolves’ fans dropped their heads when from a simple one on one tackle miss, Kyle Cochrane strolled through some threadbare defence and passed off to Jonno George to score under the posts.
Stott converted to go to a 16-0 lead.
The poor ball security continued for the Wolves and on the second tackle surrended the ball with Corin Smith scooping it up to take off and then pass off to Todd Munn who showed brilliant speed to score and the Dragons were breathing fire at 22-0.
When the Wolves could string a few passes together they worried Mudgee and on one of the few occasions that they made it to the last tackle of their set, Jonathan Van Veen put up a perfectly weighed kick outwide to his winger Blake Sheppeard who took a difficult catch and touched down for the Wolves’ first try.
Van Veen converted to cut Mudgee’s lead back to 22-6.
The Wolves were finishing the first half the stronger and after forcing a couple of line drop outs, big second rower Brendon Van Veen smashed over in the corner after handling twice in the movement.
The halftime score stood at 22-10.
The Wolves continued to dominate, but just on 10 minutes, a dropped ball saw the ball shovelled out to the flying Munn who outpaced the opposition on an 80 metre run to the line and with the Stott conversion, Mudgee were looking good at 28-10.
With 23 minutes left on the clock, the Wolves’ comeback started when Mizzi crashed through the middle of the ruck and passed off to Taff Nicolas who then drew the fullback and off loaded to Jamie Clark who scored under the posts.
Van Veen converted and the score was 28-16.
From the kick-off, big Chris Rhodes took the ball up carrying defenders with him. Mizzi was next and again the Mudgee defence could not handle the hard running second rower who again found himself in open spaces.
The ball went to Jonathan Van Veen who streaked down the sideline passed inside and then backed up to score under the posts.
Van Veen converted his own try and the Wolves drew within six points at 28-22.
The Wolves’ wave continued with Mudgee on the backfoot again and three minutes later, Brendon Van Veen crashed in for his second try and with his brother Jonathan converting, the Wolves had drawn the scores at 28-all.
It was a shell shocked Mudgee who were looking for answers and when one of their players tried to ‘milk’ a penalty when playing the ball; it backfired on him with the referee penalising him for playing the ball wrong.
With eight minutes to go, the Wolves went to lead for the first time when Van Veen converted the penalty to give his side a 30-28 lead.
The Wolves wrapped up what was a memorable win when Jamie Clark split a tiring Mudgee defence and then passed off to five eighth Taff Nicolas who sprinted 20 metres to score under the posts.
Van Veen converted to make the full time score 36-28.
It was a weary and very disappointed Mudgee side that walked off shaking the heads wondering just what had happened.
There were not too many outstanding players in the first half for the Wolves, but in the second half Matt Mizzi, Chris Rhodes, Jonathan Van Veen, Jamie Clark and Blake Sheppeard were outstanding in a side that all contributed to the magnificent comeback.
Best for Mudgee were Todd Munn who finished with a hat-trick, Matt Stott, Corin Smith and Axes Akaroa.
SCOREBOARD: WORKMENS CLUB 36 (Jonathan Van Veen, Taff Nicolas, Jamie Clark, Blake Sheppeard and Brendon Van Veen (2) tries and Jonathan Van Veen six goals) def MUDGEE 28 (Todd Munn 3, Jono George and Corin Smith tries and Matt Stott three goals).