Illawarra Coal Under 18s Grand Final
A sensational try in golden point extra time to Shellharbour captain and halfback Adam Clune gave the Sharks a thrilling 26-22 win over Wests in the Illawarra Coal League Under 18 Grand Final at WIN Stadium on Sunday.
In a drama-charged finale, the reigning premiers and minor premiers almost sank on the boot of Wests five-eighth Paora Kemp’s boot whose field goal attempt to break the 22-all deadlock hit the right upright and bounced away as the full-time siren sounded.
Then, four minutes into golden point Kemp was perfectly positioned for another field goal attempt in front of the sticks but Clune read the play to perfection, racing out and producing a superb chargedown, then snapping up the football and scampering 75metres to score the premiership winning try.
Once again Under 18 Grand Final showcased some wonderful football played by some outstanding young and talented rugby league players.
The final the previous Sunday at Collegians Sports Centre also was decided in golden point, that time the result went to Wests over Dapto by the same score 26-22.
Shellharbour were dangerous early in the game with a break by centre Josh Nau which almost resulted in a try in the left corner but he’d stepping on the touchline 20 metres out from the Devils’ goal line.
The Sharks could not be denied in the sixth minute when a beautiful short ball from Clune sent second-rower Nick King across to open the scoring.
Five minutes later Wests hit back with a try to centre Jordan Forsyth to level the scores 4-all.
The Devils were dangerous again but were unable to add to the scoreboard.
Then it was Shellharbour’s turn to attack the Devils’ line and referee Michael Chin ruled a double movement against winger Cairo Ahu in the 10th minute.
But it was Wests who crossed for the next try when, in the 14th minute, hooker Josh Daley scored and Ryan King converted the try for a 10-4 lead which remained the half-time score.
Shellharbour drew level six minutes into the second half when hooker Kiran Tranter slipped through from dummy-half to score between the posts for lock Ryan James to add the extras.
Two minutes later Shellharbour interchange winger Dylan Wallace was over in the corner but dropped the ball in attempting to score.
When James banged the ball down under the crossbar in the 50th minute and converted his own try, the Sharks led 16-10.
Wests were not to be denied and in the 55th minute interchange player Tom Simpson pounced on a rolling ball from a kick to score between the posts for Kemp to convert and once again the scores were locked up at 16-all.
A spectacular 90m try to Shellharbour fullback Jordan Harty who produced blinding speed to outpace the opposition to score between the posts had the Sharks back in front 20-16 and when Ahu added the extras they led by six points.
Wests rallied again in the 63rd minute when Kemp intercepted 70m out from his own goal line and ran away to score and the pressure conversion from wide out squared the scores 22-all.
Then came the dramatic conclusion as Kemp’s field goal attempt bounced away off the upright as the full-time siren sounded before Clune’s premiership winning try in golden point extra time.
Clune was the recipient of the Player of the Grand Final award.