An epic. One for the ages. One of the best Grand Finals seen in many years. Just some of the phrases used to describe the 2019 Group 6 Rugby League Grand Final on Sunday afternoon.
Thirlmere are the toast of the town, following a heart-stopping 38-36 win over their local neighbours and arch-rivals Picton at Campbelltown Stadium. The Roosters and Magpies put on a display of rugby league which left many of the 4500 plus crowd gasping and cheering at the show before them on a perfect spring Sunday afternoon.
Many had barely taken their seats following the National Anthem when Thirlmere opened the scoring, following a long-range team try which was finished by Justin Smith with only 51 seconds on the clock. The Roosters then added another on 5 minutes when centre Josh Bryant scored, and many were in disbelief as Thirlmere led 10-0 and were ahead of the clock. Picton had barely touched the football in the opening stages, and their supporters knew their chance would come.
It did, as the Magpies returned serve with winger Joey Peato scoring the first two of his three tries in the space of 11 minutes. Bustling centre Nathan Davis scored between Peato's double, as the Magpies took the lead 12-10 after 25 minutes in a frenetic start.
The scoring didn't slow down, as Thirlmere replied in kind, with Bryant getting his second 11 minutes before halftime. With the Roosters in front 16-12, it appeared as though the Minor Premiers were taking control. But the Magpies didn't read that script. Peato had his third try with 5 minutes left, and the Magpies led 18-16.
But the final play of the first half left the majority of the crowd scratching their heads as to what they saw. With Thirlmere on the attack metres out from the Picton line, and time reaching zero, Adam Campbell didn't pick up the ball from dummy half, but simply kicked it ahead, allowing Jake Mullaney to force the ball, and score one of the more remarkable tries ever seen on the football field. Thirlmere led 22-18 at halftime, in one of the most amazing halves seen at this level.
Thirlmere resumed the scoring spree three minutes after play began with Allan Shipley crossing. The scoreline sat at 26-18 for a while, before the Roosters blew the game open with two tries in short time. Shipley bagged a second and Mullaney also had a double, as Thirlmere jumped out to 38-18 with over 25 minutes to go.
But the Magpies weren't done with. Tries to Daniel Payne, who played arguably his best game ever in the decider, Anthony Provost, and Billy Carroll saw the score sit at 38-36 with 5 minutes remaining. Both sides threw everything into the closing stages, with Picton having several chances to score the winning try, but Thirlmere's defence was too strong, sealing a memorable win for the Roosters.
The Roosters were dynamic, and it wouldn't be right to single out one player for praise. Picton were also brave, and the entire team deserves mention for their efforts. The Group 6 Man of the Match was Thirlmere's captain/coach Jake Mullaney, who created havoc for the Magpies all afternoon from fullback. Mullaney was instrumental in the win and deserves praise for getting his side over the line.
Picton will be disappointed with the result, but their supporters can know the entire team was gallant. The forwards, led by Carroll and Taulima Tautai tried their hardest, and Payne and Dengate in the halves steered them around all afternoon, but Thirlmere are champions for 2019.
- First Grade - Thirlmere Roosters 38 Picton Magpies 36.
- Reserve Grade - Camden Rams 14 Thirlmere Roosters 10
- Under 18 - Camden Rams 38 Narellan Jets 12
- Women's League - Camden Rams 38 Thirlmere Roosters 4
- Second Division - Narellan Jets 28 Campbelltown City 24
- Southern Highlands Shield - Warragamba Wombats 24 Bowral Blues 8
- League Tag 1 - Narellan Jets 20 Campbelltown City 0
- League Tag 2 - The Oaks Tigers 4 Picton Magpies 10