WINGHAM jumped Wauchope to move into second spot on the Group Three Rugby League ladder with a bruising 20-10 win over the Blues at Wingham.
This made it seven wins in a row for the Tigers and they are now one point clear of Wauchope. It now means Wingham has beaten every side in the competition after defeating Forster-Tuncurry last match. The Blues and the Hawks were the only sides to best Wingham in the first round.
The win wasn't as pretty as some of Wingham's other efforts this year. They were forced to get into the grind for much of the game and work hard for their points against a determined opposition. The winning margin flattered Wauchope, with the game's last try coming seconds before fulltime. However, looking at the big games ahead, Wingham coach Mick Sullivan agreed it was a far better performance than the pasting the Tigers gave an under-strength Forster-Tuncurry side on June 2. It was semi-final-like football that tested the mettle of both teams.
A try to unpredictable Wingham centre Kurt Lewis moments before halftime was the tipping point. The Tigers had dominated field position for much of the opening 40 minutes and despite producing some attractive passages of play at various times, only led 8-0 with time just about up. The Blues would have been happy to head to the sheds trailing by eight.
However Lewis showed his strength to push through tackles close the line and force his way over. Five-eighth Danny Russell then piloted a sideline conversion and suddenly the Tigers were up by 14.
Hooker Mitch Collins continues to play bright football for the Tigers. He's a danger to the defence, either by darting out of dummy half or supporting a ball carrier. There was nothing wrong with his defence, either. Collins was best on field.
He also scored the best try of the game. Coach Sullivan put up a kick into vacant space and Collins took it on the full at speed and raced over unopposed. This was Wingham's second try of the game after winger Brodie Myer finished off a set backline play and Myer took a long pass from fullback Matt Bridge, who was again strong for the Tigers.
It was a good day for the custodians, as Wauchope lightly building fullback Tony Thompson was fearless and also gave the Wingham defenders plenty of problems with his quick stepping. Halfback Tristan Scott did some smart things in patches for the Blues.
Both sets of forwards did the hard work with Joel Kiendienst (Wingham) and Kahlan Duncan (Wauchope) churning through the metres.
Kliendienst scored the only Wingham try in the second half when he ran onto a pass after the Tigers spread the ball wide. Russell added the extras and Wingham led by 20, the Blues finishing with tries to Duncan and then Watts.
It was nearly a memorable day for Wingham interchange forward Blake Fraser. He's yet to score a try in senior football, but charged onto a deftly timed pass from Sullivan and into the clear about 25 metres from the line midway through the first half. Fraser looked in for all money but the cover converged on the line and managed to hold him up. So near yet so far.
Wingham 20 (B Myer, M Collins, K Lewis, J Kliendienst tries, D Russell 2 goals) defeated Wauchope 10 (K Duncan, S Watts tries, S Watts goal).
Reserve grade: Wingham 52 d Wauchope 8
Under 18.5s: Wingham 16 d Wauchope 12
League tag: Wauchope 32 d Wingham 12.