Here’s a look at the match reports from last weekend’s NSWRL Competitions which included the Grand Finals for SG Ball, Harold Matthews and Tarsha Gale Cup.
SG Ball Grand Final winners – Parramatta Eels
The Parramatta Eels have won the 2017 SG Ball Cup premiership, defeating Cronulla 30-22 at Leichhardt Oval.
The Eels came storming out of the blocks in the match, with a quick double to Ethan Parry – and two great conversions to captain Kyle Schneider – giving them a 12-0 lead after less than 10 minutes.
The Sharks, however, weren’t going to allow one-way traffic in the decider, with hard-running back-rower Monty Raper charging over from close range to cut the deficit to six after 23 minutes.
For the remainder of the first half the Sharks camped themselves on the Eels’ line, but Parramatta’s great defence kept Cronulla at bay.
The Eels’ resistance was rewarded early in the second half, with a sustained raid on the Sharks’ line ultimately resulting in a fleet-footed four-pointer to Joseph Taipari. The five-eighth stepped his way past a handful of defenders to score under the posts to take the score to 18-6.
A penalty to the Eels kicked the lead to 14 – and then Parramatta kicked away to the title. With the Eels on the attack, a short kick and toe-through saw half Dylan Brown looking certain to score… until he was illegally dragged off the loose ball by a Cronulla defender. Referee Clayton Wills awarded a penalty try and, with the kick, that gave the Eels a 26-6 lead.
Some quick hands soon after, however, kept the Sharks in the game, with Ronald Mulitalo crashing over from dummy half to cut the lead to 16 points.
With 13 minutes remaining Mulitalo jinked his way into back field, setting up Jaeman Salmon to score. The conversion cut the Eels’ lead to just 12.
The next set of six the Sharks scored again, Teig Wilton running 55 metres to roll across the line and, with the conversion, take the score to 26-22.
A dropped ball from Cronulla the next set, however, swung the momentum – with Parry crossing for his hat-trick to stretch the Eels’ lead to eight and take them into safer territory.
The Sharks looked set to send the game into a grandstand finish with a try five minutes from fulltime but a line-ball pass that would have resulted in a try under the posts was called forward.
Harold Matthews Grand Final winners – Newcastle Knights
The 2017 Harold Matthews Grand Final has been won in an extra-time thriller by Newcastle 26-20 against Manly at Leichhardt Oval.
The match see-sawed across the 60 minutes of regular play, with Manly holding a four-point lead into the final minute before a try in the dying seconds of regular time by Knights winger Malie-J Townsend saw the match enter extra time.
The Knights continued that momentum into the first period of extra time, with captain and lock Jaron Purcell crashing over to give his side a 24-20 lead. Max Buderus’ conversion took Newcastle’s lead to six.
First points of the day went to Keegan Turner, with the Sea Eagles centre darting over from dummy-half. The conversion attempt was waved away from out wide, but it was a healthy start for the Manly side.
The Sea Eagles kept coming and earned significant time in the Knights’ danger zone, piling on successive sets and maintaining a high completion rate. Eventually it would result in another try, to Filimaua Filimaua-Tau in the 19th minute.
The Knights got on the board through Riley Meyn just before half time, who showed tremendous strength to cross the line.
The Sea Eagles, however responded just after the break through back-rower Joshua Schuster who slipped through some soft defence.
Newcastle, however, came surging back from 14-6 – scoring tries to Christian Ma’anaima and Meyn, who crossed for his second after Manly made an error off the back of a Max Buderus kick – to lead 16-14 midway through the second half.
But Albert Hopoate, one of the stars of the competition, had other ideas, charging through the middle of the field on an otherwise innocuous piece to play to burst into back field and score a 40-metre try. Hopoate’s try and the conversion to halfback Daniel Ala took the score to 20-16.
Newcastle, however, ensured that wasn’t the last scoring play of the day in their never-say-die effort that resulted in them winning the premiership.
Congratulations to all participants in the 2017 Harold Matthews competition – arguably the best of all-time.
Tarsha Gale Cup Grand Final winners – Penrith Panthers
The Penrith Panthers have won the inaugural Tarsha Gale Cup Grand Final in a 26-18 thriller at Leichhardt Oval.
The Panthers, coming from fifth on the competition table, came out of the blocks strongly in the Grand Final and led 12-10 at the break thanks in main part to Cheryl Varga. The centre scored the first try of the decider in the 13th minute and kicked two crucial goals to give her side a lead.
The Panthers kicked clear further in the second half with fleet-footed Jamie-Lee Davies and Ashlee Harrison both stepped their ways to the tryline to give their team a 10-point lead.
The Bulldogs, however, weren’t going to be outclassed and showed they would fight ’til the death, crossing for a try to Alafou Fatu to keep the margin to six at three-quarter time.
But it was the Panthers who would seal the inaugural Tarsha Gale Cup premiership with a sensational solo try – a grubber kick and chase – to Harrison, her second.
The Bulldogs scored a late consolation try but it was too little, too late.
Congratulations to all involved in the first-ever Tarsha Gale Cup, where all competitors created Rugby League history in 2017.