WINGHAM Tigers First Grade team travelled to the Regional Stadium at Port Macquarie on Saturday afternoon to play the elimination semi-sinal against the Port Macquarie Sharks in heavy conditions.
The Tigers were the first to score after ten minutes when Blake Sky dived over in the corner.
Luke Steel's sideline conversion made the score 6-0.
It took nearly half an hour for the home team to register points with a try.
Five minutes later, Riki Toby scored for Wingham.
The extra points by Luke Steel made the half time score 12-4.
All the hard work by the Tigers in the first half was countered by the Sharks in the first minute of the second stanza, with a converted try in the corner.
But minutes later, Wingham were back on top after Mitchell Steel took an intercept and ran 50 metres to score in the corner for a 16-10 lead.
As the midway point of the half approached, Matt Bridge kicked a field goal to extend Wingham's advantage to seven points.
With eighteen minutes remaining, a chip kick by the Sharks was caught by a player a metre in front of the kicker who scored.
The referee was about to award the try until being corrected by a touch judge.
From that point of time, every fifty-fifty decision went against the Tigers.
With Port Macquarie playing catch-up football, four times in trying to off-load in a tackle, the ball went to ground, and each time Wingham were penalised for raking the ball.
Worse came for the visitors.
As the Sharks threw the ball wide, winger Aaron Bakewell came into to stop the play.
The ball was knocked on into Bakewell and bounced back into the arms of a Port Macquarie player who scored.
To the disgust of the Wingham coaching staff, players and supporters, the try was awarded, and the Tigers only led by 17-16.
But things got even worse.
With just six minutes remaining, a Sharks player dropped the ball in the play the ball ten metres out from Wingham's goal line.
The referee ruled a lost ball to put down a scrum, only to be over-ruled by a touch judge thirty metres away.
The penalty goal put Port Macquarie ahead for the first time in the game 18-17.
A minute later, Tim Bridge was hit in a high tackle about 35 metres out.
A penalty would have given Wingham a shot at victory, but it was ruled play on.
Despite the heartbreaking loss, the Wingham Tigers First Grade team was magnificent.
Congratulations to coach, Stewart Baker, and all the players for a good season.
(Blake Sky, Riki Toby, Mitchell Steel tries, Luke Steel two goals, Matt Bridge field goal).
Mixed Results at Kempsey
WINGHAM Tigers Reserve Grade and Under 18s teams both finished the competition in second place, and travelled to Kempsey for the preliminary semi-finals.
Reserve grade were playing the Port Macquarie Sharks, and scored in the first minute.
A try to Garyn Burnes in the corner was converted by Nick Beacham for a 6-0 lead.
Ten minutes later, Brad Sowter scored in the corner.
Another sideline conversion from Nick Beacham made the score 12-0.
It was a very physical game with plenty of stoppages for injury.
When the half time siren sounded, the Tigers were still ahead 12-0.
Two early tries by Port Macquarie after the break levelled the scores at 12-12.
Five minutes later, Nick Beacham put Wingham ahead with a converted try next to the posts.
Again the Sharks hit back to level the scores with a quarter of an hour remaining.
When Nick Beacham ran the ball on the last tackle to score, Wingham were again in the lead by 22-18 inside the last ten minutes.
A late try to Port Macquarie put them into the lead for the first time in the match, and they held on to win 24-22.
The Reserve Grade Tigers now head to Old Bar Reserve on Saturday to play the Port City Breakers in the Minor Semi-Final, with the loser eliminated.
(Nick Beacham 2, Garyn Burnes, Brad Sowter tries, Nick Beacham three goals).
The Tigers Under 18s were playing Wauchope.
A tough first half saw Wingham score two tries courtesy of Blake Fraser, both converted by Ben Gallagher.
Leading 12-0 at half time, a 40-20 kick by Mitch Collins, resulted in a try to Chad Lonsdale in the corner.
Ben Gallagher converted from the sideline for an 18-0 advantage.
Five minutes later, Mitch Collins scored after his kick was dropped by the fullback.
Ben Gallagher again added the extra points.
Midway through the second half, Shannon Ellem scored beside the posts.
With the conversion, the Tigers led 30-0.
Then Ben Gallagher scored a try which he failed to convert.
With coach Andrew Cross resting his key players, Wauchope scored two late tries to make the final score 34-10.
Wingham Under 18s now play undefeated minor premiers, Port Macquarie Sharks at Wauchope next Sunday in the major semi-final, with the winners to progress to the grand final.
(Blake Fraser 2, Chad Lonsdale, Mitch Collins, Shannon Ellem, Ben Gallagher tries, Ben Gallagher five goals).