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Thirlmere Roosters defend title in dramatic grand final

Thirlmere Roosters have gone back to back in a thrilling 2020 Group 6 rugby league grand final, defeating a gallant Oakdale Workers 33-22 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium yesterday.

The first 20 minutes were an arm wrestle as both teams sought to gain early dominance.

Oakdale were probably on top, but their attacking raids were thwarted by some excellent defence from the reigning premiers.

Oakdale had the majority of the possession in that first quarter period but one got the feeling once the Roosters got a share of possession they would it into points on the scoreboard.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Thirlmere five eighth Damon New bagged a double in the space of two minutes and the Roosters went to the first break with a 12-0 lead.

The game came to life – to the appreciation of the crowd – when most of the players got involved in a minor scuffle at the southern end of the field and Thirlmere lost John Ryan to the sin bin.

That opened up their defence and the Workers scored through five eighth Luke Rouland to make it 12-6.

Try time: Workers pounce for a second half four pointer. Top: Local MP Nathaniel Smith presented the trophies to the premiers and the man of the match. Pictures: ERIC KONTOS

Shortly after, Thirlmere centre Justin Smith stopped Rouland with what appeared to be a solid but legal hit.

Smith joined Ryan in the sin bin, while Rouland was taken off and didn’t return to the field again.

The teams trundled off for the half time break with Thirlmere ahead on the scoreboard 12-6.

But even with a man down, when the second half got under way the Roosters struck first.

Centre Josh Bryant scored a four pointer to extend the lead to 16-6.

But as it turned out it was wake up call for Oakdale, who lifted and were a little unlucky to lose the big dance.

What followed was a frantic period of play that didn’t abate until the referee blew the final whistle.

Another try to Oakdale in the dying stages of the match.

With 20 minutes left the Roosters led 22-16 and the teams traded tries in a dramatic finale to the grand final.

When Oakdale backrower Mitchell Gough scored on the right hand side and Jake Steadman converted, the scores were level at 22-22 with 16 minutes left.

Jesse Jackson put the Roosters back in front with 12 minutes to go but at 28-22 Oakdale threw everything at them and went close on a several occasions.

They didn’t give up even when Ailand Davis-Pihema kicked a drop goal with six minutes to go to give the Roosters a seven point buffer.

Then with less than a minute left on the clock a try to Kye Madden sealed the victory for Thirlmere and the celebrations could finally begin.

RESULTS – 2020 GROUP SIX GRAND FINALS:

First Grade – Thirlmere Roosters 33 Oakdale Workers 22;

Second Grade – Narellan Jets 24 Thirlmere Roosters 8;

Under 18 – Camden Rams 22 Thirlmere Roosters 18;

Women’s League – Narellan Jets 36 Campbelltown City 6;

Third Grade – Narellan Jets 18 Highlands Storm 16;

League Tag 1 – Oakdale Workers 22 City Blue 0;

League Tag 2 – Narellan White 18 Mittagong Lions 14 (GOLDEN POINT).

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