NHRL Sees Out Season in Harker Oval Finale
The NHRL has wrapped up another successful season in front of thousands of people at Harker Oval in Newcastle with Stroud, Dungog, Mallabula and Wangi Wangi taking the honours in their respective competitions.
The day opened up with a bang with the local derby between Stroud and Clarence Town. The cross town rivals went point for point for the most of the first half but Aaron Waters' second try for the match gave the Raiders the edge with a 20 points to 12 half time lead. A turnover on half way from Clarence Town should of seen the end of the first stanza but a cross field kick on the first tackle found a flying Waters on the run to score giving them the 8 point buffer at the break.
The second half saw the points dry up until the 25th minute when a converted try to Stroud's Clint Osborne all but sealed the match. A try to Clarence Town managed to bridge the gap back to 10 giving them a sniff of a last ditch comeback but the sniff was just that and the match was sealed with man of the match Todd Harvey crossing for his hat-trick sending Stroud into celebrations which will surely last for months to come.
The C Grade grand final was meant to be a lay down mizere with Dungog only facing defeat once through out the season and it looked like being the case when they opened the scoring a few minutes into the match through a try to Chris Nevin whcih was converted by his brother Lee to see the favourites lead 6 - 0.
Someone had forgotten to tell Dora Creek that they weren't meant to be a factor as they went on a scoring rampage racking up an unanswered 16 points to leave Dungog reeling at half time. The coach must have had plenty to say to his troops at half time with the weight of possession becoming too much to handle in the heat for the Swampies. Dungog produced a second half points spree of their own in overunning Dora Creek and eventually running out 28 points to 20 victors.
Another local derby featued in the B Grade Grand Final with the Port Stephens pair of the Mallabula Panthers and the Raymond Terrace Magpies going head to head. In a high class match it looked for sure and certain the first half would end with neither side breaching the oppositions try line. with just 3 minutes before the break the Magpies finally crossed through half back Brad O'Rourke and lead 6 - 0 at oranges. The second half produced the same as the first with neither side wanting to give away andy ground as patience become the key to victory. As the minutes ticked away another bridesmaid's dress look likely for Mallabula trailing by 12 points to 10. The Panthers held their patience and their nerve to cross with only 3 minutes left in the match to snatch the lead and victory through centre Stuart King breaking their long time drought and finally becoming the bride.
West Wallsend took on heavy favourites and a classy Wangi Wangi oufit in the main game of the day and it was going as the rest of the day went...no where near script. West Wallsend hung in there and hung in there and when they scored on the stroke of half time to trail by just 2 points an upset was on the cards.
In wasn't to be however with the outside backs given too many opportunities by Matt Simon as they scored an unanswered 18 second half points to run out convincing winners by 38 points to 18. A personal tally of 10 points in a clever half backs display earned Simons the man of the match award as he proved to the difference between the two sides.