The Lions started the day on top of the ladder, but knew they had to defeat the Roosters, and then aim for next week’s match with Picton to ensure their claim top spot.
The Roosters also had plenty to play for, with a win ensuring their position in fifth on the ladder, with a finals berth at the other end.
Mittagong dominated the first half, with seven first half tries, including a double to fullback Jake Merceica, as they controlled the match, and effectively put the result beyond doubt, with a 36-6 lead at the main break.
Lions coach Scott Borg would have been happy with the first half from his side, and want more after the break, while Thirlmere’s Geoff Downing would have asked his side for a better effort, especially in defence, to try and claw back the margin and keep their finals hopes alive.
Thirlmere managed five tries to three in the second half, but the margin was too great, and the Lions claimed an important victory as they all but locked up first place on the ladder.
Downing spoke after the game and said: ”it was always going to be hard. We didn’t man up too well in the first half.
”There was a point where they (Mittagong) scored four tries and I don’t think we (Thirlmere) touched the ball, except to give a penalty away,” Downing said.
”We’ve just gotta, I think, just hold them (Camden) in the forwards on Saturday night,” Downing said, when looking forward to next week’s must win match against Camden at Kirkham Park.
Mittagong coach Scott Borg admitted the win was important for his side and said: ”‘we were good in patches. When we get the ball we’re good.”
”We need the week off… We’ve already rested Sebastion Sell and Warwick Carter until the semis, and they’re two massive parts of our team,” Borg said of his team’s approach to the semi finals.
Borg knows playing Picton in Picton will be a tough assignment.
”It is a big test, and neither side has too much to play for,” he said.
Borg said he wasn’t worried about who the Lions will meet in the semi finals, with Picton and Camden both capable of beating them in the finals.
Round 18 next week sees Camden host Thirlmere on Saturday night at Kirkham Park, while Mittagong heads to Picton on Sunday for the Magpies, and Campbelltown City hosts The Oaks in the other match on Sunday afternoon.
First Grade ladder – Mittagong 29; Camden 27; Picton 26; Narellan 21; Thirlmere 20; Appin 19; The Oaks 14; Campbelltown City 10.
Reserve Grade – Mittagong 10 Thirlmere 18; Picton Magpies 48 Moss Vale Dragons 0. Ladder – Mittagong, Thirlmere 28; Picton, Narellan 24; Camden 21; Oakdale 18; The Oaks 15; Campbelltown City 9; Warragamba 3; Moss Vale 0.