Strong Illawarra outfit defeat Newcastle in the CRL senior Grand Final
BY TERRY LIBEROPOULOS (CRL WEBSITE)
Illawarra put a stop to Newcastle’s recent domination to emerge victorious in the Country Championships final staged in Dubbo.
The Illawarra Division side defeated arch- rivals Newcastle 38-22 after scoring 22 unanswered points in the second half.
Newcastle had the better of play in the opening stages of the game with Justin Smith racing down the sideline before being taken into touch by Illawarra centre Alipate Noilea.
The first points came after 11 minutes of action when Riley Brown split the defence after a scrum win and raced 30 metres to score. It came after Illawarra half-back Sam Duggan knocked on after his side had won the scrum.
Three minutes later, it was 10-0 to the Newcastle Rebels when Matt Shipway delivered a great cut out pass for Stephen Gordon to race into the clear. He sent Smith down the sideline and then backed up to take the pass and score. He added the conversion and the Rebels were in full control.
Illawarra then hit back with three tries in six minutes to lead 16-10 after it looked like Newcastle would run away with the game.
The first try for Illawarra came in the 17th minute when Matt Clarke charged down a Brown kick and he was able to race 35 metres to score.
Three minutes later, Illawarra were in again when prop-forward Greg Reh charged over from a tap move. It came on the back of a penalty.
A great off-load from Illawarra centre Lulia Lulia put Brad Scott over for the try. It came after Smith had lost the ball close to his own try line.
Newcastle levelled the scores at 16-all in the 28th minute after hooker Terrence Seu Seu scooted away from dummy-half to put Royal over adjacent to the posts.
Noilea dived over in the corner for the Illawarra side but was denied the try after putting his foot into touch in the process of scoring.
In the final minute of play, Newcastle half-back Jade Porter put a bomb up and winger Chris Pyne was able to fly high, take the ball and score for the Rebels. Gordon added the conversion and Newcastle went into the game leading 22-16.
Illawarra got off to a perfect start in the second half when a good pass from Ty McCarthy put winger Wayne Bremner over wide out. Duggan couldn’t add the extras and Newcastle held on to a two point lead.
But the lead didn’t last too long with Duggan producing a wonderful
40/20 kick. From the ensuing scrum win, Blake Phillips took an inside pass from Daniel Burke to score. Duggan kicked the goal and Illawarra were back in front at 26-22 with 47 minutes of the game gone.
The Illawarra side went further ahead in the 56th minute when Duggan slipped through the defence to score under the posts. He kicked the conversion to give his side a 10-point lead.
With dark clouds converging onto Apex Oval, Newcastle needed to score but they were their own worst enemies with such silly handling mistakes costing them any chance of scoring points.
Illawarra made sure of the win when winger Jason Raper beat two defenders and then sent Lulia Lulia over to score in the 73rd minute.
The game just finished in time for the heavens to open up and deliver a huge downpour.
“The boys really got stuck in after the half-time break,” said Duggan.
“Our win was on the back of a good perfoirmance from our forwards. It made my job so much easier.”
It was Illawarra’s first success since beating Newcastle 20-16 in 2010 after they were beaten 28-22 by Illawarra in 2011.
Newcastle won last year’s final after they outclased Canberra 42-24 at Seiffert Oval.
Newcastle coach Paul Skovgaard addressed his players at half-time about doing the simple things right
“Illawarra came out firing in the second half and they put a lot of pressure on us,” said Skovgaard.
Illawarra 38 (Matt Clarke, Greg Reh, Brad Scott, Wayne Bremmer, Blake Phillips, Sam Duggen, Lulia Lulia tries; Duggan 5 goals) d. Newcastle
22 (Riley Brown, Steve Gordon, Jesse Royal, Chris Pyne tries; Gordon 3
goals) at Apex Oval, Dubbo, June 29. Referee: Matt Edwards.
Touch judges: Nick Richardson, Wayne Hughes. Penalties: Illawarra 7-1.
Crowd: 1200. Half-time: Newcastle 22-16. Goal-kickers: Steve Gordon
(Newcastle) 3 from 4, Sam Duggan (Newcastle) 5 from 7.