Glory days return for NDRL as crowd support grows
THE Northern Districts Rugby League is just about back to the glory days, with growing crowds and plenty of support.
And it was fitting the Agnes Water Marlins made it all the way to the grand final in only their second season in the competition.
Since the club was formed in 2011 and began playing in the NDRL last season, the standard throughout the competition has lifted both on and off the field.
But Avondale Tigers came from fourth to upset the Marlins last Sunday and Agnes assistant coach Bob Cooper reluctantly said they probably deserved the win on the back of their defensive effort in the final.
"All credit to Avondale they played a simple, strong game and capitalised on any of our errors,'' Cooper said.
"But it was probably their defence that won it for them.
"We've got a special bunch of blokes here (Marlins) and they'll stay together for next year.
"It'll make them hungrier. The old saying is true I think; you've gotta lose one to win one.''
The Tigers ran out winners 34-20 in last Sunday's final, but only by six tries to four, with Andrew Filo's boot making up the difference.
Miriam Vale has been the benchmark for the competition for a few years but fell in a bit of a hole towards the end of the 2013 season after taking the mid-season trophy and then the minor premiership.
But the Marlins have become worthy local derby contenders, eventually finishing just behind the Magpies by two points in second place in the home-and-away season.
"We've got a terrific bunch of blokes, but also the number of sponsors from in the town plus all the workers; the volunteers who do all the things behind the scenes has been tremendous,'' Cooper said.
Cooper said the NDRL competition was going well and the clubs were working together.