Burgh, Cougars and Sharks qualify for grand finals
Helensburgh, Corrimal and Shellharbour will be represented in the Illawarra Coal League lower grade grand finals at WIN Stadium on Sunday week, September 1. The Tigers are in the second grade decider, the Cougars in the Illawarra Coal Shield and the Sharks in under 18s.
In the major semi-finals at Collegians Sports Centre yesterday, the Tigers defeated Thirroul 22-14 in second grade, Corrimal downed the Burgh 26-14 in Illawarra Coal Shield and the Sharks beat Wests 24-14 in under 18s.
The second grade major semi-final between Helensburgh and Thirroul was a high quality affair between these two northern Illawarra rivals.
Tigers five-eighth Jarrad Fitzgerald scored and converted his own try to give his side a 6-0 lead and they doubled this advantage almost immediately when fullback Abraham El-Zakhem crossed and Fitzgerald again added the extras for the Burgh to lead 12-0 almost midway through the first half. El-Zakhem then crossed for his second try of the game for the Burgh to lead 16-0.
Thirroul’s first points came off the back of five-eighth Joel Willoughby’s intercept when the Tigers looked likely to score and later in the set left winger Hayden Nettle crossed in the corner to trim the margin to 16-4 six minutes from half-time.
In the 33rd minute, Willoughby dummied his way through to halve the lead to 16-8 which remained the half-time score. A Fitzgerald 40/20 enabled Helensburgh to attack from a 10 metre scrum. Later on, a jinking run from El-Zakhem set up a try for second-rower Ben Ryan in the 50th minute. Fitzgerald’s successful conversion from wide out had the Burgh ahead 22-8.
Thirroul replied in the 65th minute when second-rower Cameron Nicholson scored and captain/fullback Nathan Potter converted to make it 22-14 but that was all she wrote.
In the minor semi-finals at CSC last Saturday, Wests defeated Shellharbour 28-20 in second grade, Northern Suburbs downed North Wollongong Surf 34-20 in Illawarra Coal Shield and Dapto beat Corrimal 36-24 in under 18s.
The Illawarra Coal Shield match was marred when North Wollongong Surf winger Ian Bray sustained a seriously broken leg and dislocated hip. Everyone involved in rugby league sends very best wishes to Ian and his family in his recovery.
The second grade minor semi-final also produced some quality footy in an entertaining and seesawing affair.
After Wests established a 6-0 lead, the Sharks responded with two tries to go ahead 8-6 before further scoring by both teams made it 14-all then Shellharbour led 20-16 to set up an exciting finish.
With nine minutes to go, a try to Wests hooker Wade Stanford equalised 20-all and halfback Josh Dean’s successful conversion put the Devils in front 22-20.
When Wests prop Daniel Zohar scored his second try of the game just two minutes from full-time and Dean added the extras the Devils had kept their premiership hopes alive with a 28-20 win.
In Illawarra Ladies League, reigning premiers Helenburgh have advanced to the grand final at CSC at 1.15pm on Saturday week, August 31, ahead of the Illawarra Cutters’ NSW Cup match against Wests Tigers.
Helensburgh defeated Corrimal 22-4 in a keenly contested major semi-final at CSC last Saturday. In the minor semi-final at Ron Costello Oval the previous Saturday, August 10, Wests downed Berkeley 18-6 and they will play Corrimal in the final at CSC at 4.30pm on Sunday following the first grade fixture.
MINOR GRADE FINALS AT COLLEGIANS SPORTS CENTRE SUNDAY AUGUST 25
Second grade: Thirroul v Wests, 1.30pm
Illawarra Coal Shield: Helensburgh v Northern Suburbs, 12.00nn
Under 18s: Wests v Dapto, 10.30am