A field goal in the dying minutes of the game saw Newcastle Rebels defeat East Coast 21-20 in the Country Rugby League Championship under 16 clash played at Wingham.
East Coast started strongly with a try in the corner after three minutes with fast ball movement out wide through the backs with Jamaine Anderson (Wauhope) touching down with the unconverted try.
Newcastle replied with force from a 40/20 kick into the East Coast Dolphins 20 metre area and from quick ball obtained touched down near the posts by Billy Mitchell (Kurri Kurri). The goal was missed and play resumed and Newcastle Rebels scored again in quick succession from forward pressure 10 yards out from the East Coast Dolphins goal line. John Afu (Central Newcastle) picked up and touched down at speed. The try was unconverted to make the score after 15 minutes, ECD – 4; Newcastle Rebels – 8.
In the 26th minute the Dolphins kicked long and from that, the Rebels knocked on which resulted in a scrum with quick ball out to Lachlan Williams (Taree Red Rovers) who went over for the try which was converted by Thomas Vickory (Murwillumbah) to make the score at half-time ECD – 10; Newcastle Rebels – 8.
The Rebels started the second half with momentum and from a scrum which resulted in a rollover maul by the forwards, the Rebels touched down with no conversion resulting. ECD – 10; Newcastle Rebels – 12.
The play was even at this stage of the match and then for the next 10-15 minutes the Newcastle Rebels enjoyed more procession of the ball and put more pressure on the defence. From a restart Newcastle Rebels broke through to score a try by Taj Emerton (Lakes United) and converted by Lachlan O’Brien (Cessnock). ECD – 10; Newcastle Rebels – 16.
Another Newcastle try quickly followed with a clever kick into space in the opposing 22 metre line. Rebels’ fullback, Tom Reynolds (Raymond Terrace) regained the ball and went through under the posts and over, for the try. ECD – 10; Newcastle Rebels – 20.
In the next play a Rebels player dropped the ball and from that error, the East Coast Dolphins utilised their backline to score in the corner through Jamaine Anderson (Wauhope) with the try unconverted. ECD – 14; Newcastle Rebels – 20.
In the 55th minute a superb cross field kick by the Dolphins and good interplay by the Dolphins winger and Thomas Vickory (Murwillumbah), allowed Vickory to dive over for a try in the corner. The resulting conversion went over to leave the score, ECD – 20; Newcastle Rebels – 20.
With four minutes to play with the scores even, the Newcastle Rebels applied pressure on the Dolphins’ defence and from a quick ball, Bailey Allardice (Lakes United) stuck a field goal under pressure and the ball flew sweetly through the posts. The East Coast Dolphins never gave up and gave themselves opportunities in the final minutes but from unforced errors when dropping the ball in pivotal positions, the clock ran out and the Newcastle Rebels won the game narrowly in what was a great advert for country league U16 football.
There were solid showings for the East Coast Dolphins from Jamaine Anderson (Wauchope) who scored two tries, Lachlan Williams (Taree Red Rovers) who scored a try, Tony Thompson (Port Macquarie), Jordan Moore (Bowraville) and Ulysses Roberts (Bowraville).