MACKILLOP SHARKS CLAIM VICTORY
A TWO-try effort from Darren Caulton helped Mackillop complete their fairytale and claim NRL NT’s A-grade premiership over Palmerston 34-16 at Rugby Park last night.
The Sharks entered the contest on the back of a 68-24 demolition of Brothers and they took that form into the opening exchanges, while Palmerston were slow out of the blocks after a week off.
The minor premiers jumped to an early 14-0 lead thanks to tries to Joel Bentley, Darren Caulton and Reuben Castro.
Palmerston made too many unforced errors in their own half and failed to maintain any cohesion inside the Sharks territory through that period.
Mackillop played a simple style with an emphasis on getting to their kick and it worked.
Palmerston finally found some ball inside Mackillop’s red zone in the minutes before halftime and they hit back just before the buzzer.
Matty Johnson got on the outside of his opposite to slice through and plant the ball down, taking the score to 14-4 before the interval.
Mackillop hit back shortly after the break when Darren Caulton plucked an intercept and ran 50 metres to plant the ball down.
A piece of individual brilliance by Matty Johnson got the Raiders into the contest.
The speedster received the ball 40 metres from the line and shrugged off five Mackillop defenders to score underneath the posts.
A Keegan Quackawoot try gave the Raiders hope, but Ofa’s second, five minutes from fulltime, sealed the deal.
Sharks captain coach Mixie Lui said it was an unbelievable effort from his side.
“Hats off to the whole club – B-grade winning earlier set the tone and A-grade just had to follow suit and we did,” he said.
“It is a relief there’s many supporters and sponsors that followed us through the hard times and this premiership is definitely for them.
“I guess you could say it is a fairytale the boys had the belief from the start and put the hard work in, so it is well deserved.”