Group 20 rugby league
A MIGHTY comeback by the Bidgee Hurricanes fell agonisingly short as the group’s newest entity missed its first grand final trophy by two points on Sunday at EW Moore Oval.
Facing the tough Tullibigeal Lakes United, the young Hurricanes went down 24-22 after storming home in the last 15 minutes.
However, early mistakes and handling errors, and two restart kicks going out on the full had the Hurricanes behind the eight ball all day.
“You can’t afford to drop that much ball, make that many critical errors,” coach Michael Thomas said after the game.
While the Sharks scored early and had the run of play, the Hurricanes hit back in the 15th minute through Tom Webb and Keiran Cates’ conversion give them the lead. While the Sharks scored twice more, their tries were split by one to Tim Hillam to ensure the scoreboard was close to the break with TLU leading 14-12.
Mistakes from both sides started the second half and then, with the Hurricanes attacking, a long pass was intercepted and the resulting scrambled try-line play ended up with TLU scoring to go ahead 20-12.
The Hurricanes restart went into touch on the full, but both sides went into attack mode.
The Hurricanes held TLU out and were themselves held up in goal. The Sharks forwards Dyllan Phillips and Jayke Stevenson started making big metres and eventually the Hurricanes defence crumbled out wide and a deft flick pass put the Sharks over in the corner and a 24-12 lead.
Despite again kicking out on the full, the Hurricanes put their heads down and were twice rewarded by being held up in goal. Ben Nakubuwai and winger Jed Noonan kept the Sharks defence on their toes and eventually Webb scored his second after strolling through a hole.
The Hurricanes were finishing full of run and used a TLU knock on to get good field position before Jesse McDonald was able to stretch out in a tackle to score. However, Cates missed what would normally be an easy conversion and the Hurricanes trailed 24-22. With five minutes left both sides threw everything in to attack and defence, pouncing on mistakes, but unable to capitalise and the score remained unchanged.
“I was pretty impressed with the lot of them,” Thomas said. “Tom Webb really stood up, led the side around, young (James) Rappley stood up. In general I really think they all stood up. Considering that much dropped ball, I think we had a good comeback.”
Thomas had a simple message for his players after the game.
“Just to hold their heads high,” he said.
“Then we regroup and stick together and we go again next year, starting the pre-season nice and early. I’m actually pretty proud of their efforts.
“We’re a bit disappointed, but they’ve just taken it in their stride. They’ll be right.”
TLU 24 (tries: Braden Davis 2, John Harris, Steve Tracey, Ben Manton; goals: Tyson Dutton, Braden Davis) d Bidgee Hurricanes 22 (tries: Tom Webb 2, Jesse McDonald, Tim Hillam; goals: Kieren Cates 3)
Best on ground: Len Bertoldo Medal � Dylan Phillips (TLU)
TIM Hillam barges through the TLU defence and falls over the line for the Hurricanes’ second try in the under 18s grand final.
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