Pickers Win in Golden Point
The Maitland Pickers have advanced to their first Grand Final in over two decades after an extraordinary golden point win over Western Suburbs at Maitland Sportsground.
Pickers winger, Hayden Crouch is the toast of the town after a try in the final two minutes of regulation time got them into the golden point and when he crossed in the second period of extra time he sealed his place in Pickers folklore.
The conditions at Maitland Sportsground made it difficult for both teams and it took 25 minutes for the scoreboard attendants to be required. A shift from one side of the field to the other strecthed the Rosellas defensive line who found Gavin Quinn too difficult to handle as the Pickers opened the scoring. The Pickers again went on the attack deep in the Rosellas half but chanced their hand once too often with Nathan Hinton snatching an intercept to post Wests first points in an 80 metre effort handing the Rosellas a 6 points to 4 lead.
Another try against the run of play, this time to Rosellas winger Steve Gordon in the 38th minute sent the parochial Maitland crowd back to their seats as Wests went to the break with a 12 points to 4 advantage.
Another shift to Quinn after the break gave Maitland an opportunity which they seized with big Willy Poleo scoring in the corner to narrow the gap but all that good work was undone when Wests returned serve through Brian Clarke. Clarke was the danger man all afternoon for the Rosellas and his solo try was a great reward for his tireless efforts taking the score out to 16 points to 8.
Luke Matheson was handed the uneviable task of replacing Peter Ellis at hooker for the back half of the season and has made the position his own in recent weeks. He was without doubt the best on the ground in a brilliant display out of dummy half and when he barged over in the 68th minute he gave his side a sniff of victory. In a typical occurance for the day the Rosellas again hit back through a penalty goal to Todd Hurrell for what looked like an unassailable 18 points to 12 lead with only 5 minutes left on the clock...unassailable until Hayden Crouch stepped up to score his double sending Maitland into raptures, himself into the history books and the club into their first grand final appearance since the 80's...
Western Suburbs will now have to regroup as they prepare to take on a confident Cessnock at Kurri Kurri next Sunday afternoon.