Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs have made it back-to-back premierships following their upset 34-22 win over minor premiers Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles in Sunday's Tooheys South Coast Rugby League first grade grand final at Centenary Field.
In an incredible game, the Bulldogs ran to an early 18-0 lead before an Eagles fought back to score three tries in the final seven minutes before halftime to trail 18-16 only to see the Bulldogs hold on for a well deserved win.
The game opened with both packs tearing into each other and a series of handling errors gave the Bulldogs take control with lock Glenn Hughes doing well to stretch over for the first try in the 10th minute. They furthered their advantage, helped by injuries to Eagles Wade Walsh and Brett Stewartson, when firstly replacement Matt Stewart burst over and then incredible handling by Hughes who juggled the ball on the line before flicking the ball to prop Ben McKinnon who dived over. Greg Sherwin converted all three to give the `Dogs an 18-0 lead.
The Eagles rallied and incredibly recorded three tries, all to prolific centre Simon Piminovs, in the seven minutes before halftime to see their side back in the hunt at the halftime break.
Walsh and Stewartson returned after the break, but a try to Hughes, engineered by Greg Sherwin and Sherwin's conversion gave the Bulldogs a 24-16 lead and this was quickly trimmed to only two again when Park hooker Dean Gray fooled the defence to score beside the posts, Sean Jenkins converted for 24-22.
Gray's opposite Adam Stone, who was having a great game, scored a try of his own in the 51st minute when he also scored after a great run to give the Bulldogs back their eight point advantage.
Despite trailing by eight, the Eagles were still in with a great chance, but an indiscretion by Wade Walsh, who appeared to lash out with his foot at Sherwin while playing the ball right on the tryline and was sent off by referee Kevin Petty. The Eagles not only lost a player but also the ball while in a strong scoring position and the Bulldogs were well and truly on the hook.
The match erupted in the 75th minute and Bulldogs half Brett Fowler was also sent off for coming into the melee, but it was too little too late for the Eagles as the Bulldogs finished with a late try to winger Cheyne Whitford.
Prop Billy Brown was a popular Man of the Match, while Adam Stone, Glen Hughes, Greg Sherwin and Ben McKinnon also played well for the Bulldogs, while Dean Gray, Robbie Simms, Simon Piminovs and Levi Thatcher were best for a disappointed Eagles.
Under 18 minor premiers the Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs converted their domination of this year's competition into a premiership when they edged out Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies 18-16 in a real thriller.
The Bulldogs got a brilliant start when their classy captain Garry Warburton, in his last match before joining the Canterbury Bulldogs, crossed in the first five minutes, with centre Greg Bassett showing plenty of speed to score out wide to level the scores.
The Bulldogs took the lead again in the 21st minute when replacement Mark Laws backed up to score out wide, but the Magpies showed their class right on halftime when five-eighth Sam Burns split the defence and found Joey Dawson in support then backed up to score under the posts. Graham Davidson converted and the Magpies had taken a surprise 10-8 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs hit back well after the break and knocked back a chance for two points from close range and the gamble payed off when lock Adam Tracey showed great strength to crash over and Ryan Mamo's conversion gave his side a 14-10 lead.
Both sides threw everything at each other and the real crunch came for the Bulldogs when Warburton backed up some good passing to score his second try, with the Magpies launching a late rally that saw Dawson score and Jared McNamara converting to close the gap to only two with three minutes remaining, but the Doggies held firm to take the title.
In two teams of excellent players, Bulldogs hooker Stein Lofts was voted Man of the Match, while Warburton, Brent Hurley and Daniel Deaves were outstanding, while Sam Burns, Joey Dawson, Nathan Benny and Lloyd Sharpe all played well for the Magpies.
Shellharbour City Sharks continued their domination of the Reserve Grade competition when they finished too strongly for the Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies to take the title.
In a wide open game, the Magpies were first on the board in the 6th minute when winger Clinton Taylor crossed in the corner and hooker Nick Gallagher landed a great conversion, but their joy was short-lived when the Sharks replied through centre Lee Moran, but the Magpies also hit back to regain their advantage to lead 10-4.
Good hands just before halftime saw veteran winger Jeff Wellington race over out wide and converted and only two minutes after the resumption fullback Matt Coelho went in. The Magpies levelled showed they meant business again only three minutes later when hooker Gallagher was over and at 14-14 it was anyone's game.
In the end it was the Sharks who got on top, despite a couple of near things for the Magpies, including a great bust from second-rower Athol Lester, with late tries to wingers Kevin Ottaway and Wellington along with replacement Garren Hourn.
Five-eighth Adam McGrath was awarded Man of the Match in the winning Sharks team and was well supported by captain Matt Cody, Phil Lopez and Ben Harvey, while Nick Gallagher, Athol Lester and Dave Wallis never stopped trying for the Magpies.
OUTLAWS STATUS RETURNS
Albion Park Outlaws have regained their status as the top team in the Regan Cup competition following their thrilling 26-16 win over minor premiers St Georges Basin Dolphins in the grand final.
In a match of fluctuating fortunes, the Outlaws raced to a 20-0 lead six minutes into the second half before tries in the 45th, 53rd and 55th minutes saw the Dolphins storm back into the game and it was a try three minutes before fulltime by workaholic Outlaws second-rower Scott Ryan that saw his side home.
The match started in sensational style when the Outlaws were able to force a Basin goal-line dropout from the kick-off gave them a great chance to attack and after only two minutes five-eighth Brett Holz plunged over near the posts for David Bassett to convert.
The rest of the first half was tight and it wasn't until the 29th minute that the Outlaws went further ahead after a great passing movement saw winger Nathan Walsh cross to give his side a 10-0 lead at halftime.
The Outlaws started the second half as positively as the first, with centre Tony Muffalo scoring out wide and five minutes later Man of the Match Paul Veenstra crashed over and when Bassett converted the match looked as good as over.
But the Dolphins had other ideas and came storming back when prolific centre Reggie Deeks scored and this was followed by a burrowing effort from hooker Mark Bertholini to get them back to 20-12 and two minutes later lock Richard Ford scored out wide and at 20-16 a comeback win by the Dolphins with 15 minutes remaining looked like a possibility.
Ryan's late try sealed the win in what was an extremely entertaining match.
In two teams of very good players, Paul Veenstra, Jason Gort, Scott Ryan and Wayne Beauchamp were best for the Outlaws, while Richard Ford, Mark Bertholini, Nathan Williams and Ross Deeks tried hard for the Dolphins.
First Grade: Milton-Ulladulla Bulldogs 34 (G. Hughes 2, C. Whitford, A. Stone, B. McKinnon, M. Stewart tries G. Sherwin 5 goals) d Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles 22 (S. Piminovs 3, D. Gray tries S. Jenkins 3 goals).
Under 18: Milton-Ulladulla 18 (G. Warburton 2, A. Tracey, M. Laws tries R. Mamo goal) d Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magpies 16 (S. Burns, G. Bassett, J. Dawson tries G. Davidson, J. McNamara goals).
Reserve Grade: Shellharbour City Sharks 28 (J. Wellington 2, M. Coelho, K. Ottaway, L. Moran, G. Hourn tries J. Wellington 2 goals) d Berry-Shoalhaven Heads Magies 14 (C. Taylor, N. Gallagher, N. Stewart tries N. Gallagher goal).
Regan Cup: Albion Park-Outlaws 26 (N. Walsh, T. Muffalo, B. Holz, P. Veenstra, S. Ryan tries D. Bassett 3 goals) d St Georges Basin 16 (Reggie Deeks, M. Bertholini, R. Ford tries R. Ford 2 goals).
Last Modified on 18/03/2006 13:00