Roosters and Panthers take it to the wire in round 6 thriller

Nambucca Rooster Lacey Wilson takes on the Panthers attack. The Sawtell girls defeated the Nambucca Roosters 36-6.

CORONATION Park at Nambucca Heads played host to a large crowd of very vocal rugby league fans on Sunday to witness one of the most exciting games of First Grade football you are ever likely to see.

The home side came up with a win 36 to 28, however the visiting Sawtell Panthers were never out of the contest, with both sides putting in a solid 80 minutes of top shelf football.

Being able to complete sets to put themselves into good field position early saw the Roosters open their account first, with Willy Baker scoring in the corner off a Tyronne Roberts-Davis grubber kick, the try not converted.

It was nearly ten more minutes of rapid attacking play and try-saving defence from both sides before pressure on the Panthers backs close to the line saw the home side cross again.

The Logan Jones try was converted this time by Roberts-Davis, taking the lead to 10-0.

The score board deceptively gave the impression of a one-sided contest after a blistering 50 metre run along the sideline by Nambucca’s Jay Melrose got him over in the corner.

Roberts-Davis’ conversion meant the Roosters now led 16-0 with 25 minutes still left to play in the first half.

It only took the Panthers five minutes to answer when quick hands in attack put Jake Thornton over and, with Cory Willis’ conversion, they began to chase the Roosters down.

The confidence gained from the converted try and penalties now going their way, the committed attack from the visitors kept the Roosters under pressure and defending close to the line, breaking through for more points thirteen minutes from half time.

With the score now at 16-12, the crowd reacted accordingly and both teams knew a win was still up for grabs.

The home side gave up some penalties cheaply, enabling Sawtell to make serious metres and put Nambucca back against their line, eventually getting Tom Sanders over in the left corner.

Unable to convert the try, the game was tied up 16-16 with seven minutes remaining in the first half.

The deadlock was broken on the back of some uncharacteristically sloppy ball handling by the Panthers when receiving a Roosters kick.

Brody Simon burst through for a try, converted by Roberts-Davis, taking the score to 22-16 with three minutes left in the half.

One minute before the end of the first half a stunning line-break by Nambucca’s Dane Saunders resulted in a great individual try, not converted, and the teams headed for the sheds with the Roosters in front, 26 -16.

With only two minutes gone in the second half a disciplined passage of attacking play by the Roosters saw Dane Saunders cross the line for his second try of the day, not converted.

The game now settled into a rhythm for the next ten minutes, with both sides getting close to their try lines but unable to break through until Sawtell fullback Jake Thornton launched the Panthers fightback with a converted try, the score now 30-22.

The visitors were able to thwart a number of attacks near the line by the Roosters and it appeared the pendulum was swinging their way when their tenacity was rewarded with another try under the post by Robert Brilley, converted, and the Roosters under real pressure with eleven minutes left in the game and the score at 30-28.

For the next five minutes it was anyone’s game until Nambucca’s Tyreece Sines evaded Panther’s defence and scored, converted by Roberts-Davis, and despite both teams still going at it hard, the clock ran down to end in the 36-28 result.

In the minor grades Sawtell had more success, winning the Under 18s clash 12-10 in a top game of spirited footy.

The Women’s Tackle also went Sawtell’s way with the score 36-6 and both teams showing great improvements in all aspects of their game.

The reserve grade game was an absolute thriller however the visitors ran away with it in the end and the full time score was Sawtell Panthers 30, Nambucca Roosters 18.


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