KIAMA have claimed their first big scalp of the 2014 season, grinding out an upset 17-10 win over Gerringong at Kiama Showground.
In blustery conditions it was the Knights’ commitment in defence that paved the way for them to emerge victorious in what was a hard fought, and sometimes fiery, match between the traditional rivals.
After repelling some early Kiama pressure, Gerringong found themselves deep in Kiama territory and a had a prime opportunity to take the lead when a penalty gifted them a second crack at the Knights.
The visitors took advantage of the situation, Patrick Cronin proved too strong close to the line and crashed over for a 4-0 lead.
The Lions dominated possession after Cronin’s try, but Kiama showed plenty of resolve to ensure the lead wasn’t increased.
It was then Gerringong’s turn to defend their line and it was a similar story, some desperate defence meant the scoreboard attendant had little to worry about.
Just as it looked like Gerringong had weathered the storm, the bounce of the ball brought them undone.
Kiama half-back Jack Alexander produced and awkward, bouncing kick which a chasing Cameron Whitaker pounced on to score.
Alexander’s conversion gave his side a two-point lead at the half-time siren, and it would be a lead they would never surrender.
The start of the second half saw the Knights come out of the sheds the more eager of the two sides, and they caused some early headaches for the Lions with their second phase play.
An early penalty then gave Kiama an excellent early attacking chance which they made the most of when centre James Brown crashed over.
Alexander’s conversion put the lead out to eight at 12-4.
Gerringong had their chances to close the gap, but with hooker Nathan Ford on the sideline for much of the game and regular half-back Brad Davidson out through injury, they seemed to lack some of their usual flair and polish with the ball in hand.
To Kiama’s credit though, the Knights proved extremely composed in defence and protected their line with a sense of grim determination.
Through-out the game there was no love lost between the two sides, and late in the second-half the game paid the price for the unwillingness of the match officials to assert their authority when Kiama’s Dean Gentle and Gerringong’s Tim Moore were given an early shower after exchanging a flurry of punches as tempers boiled over.
Kiama received the penalty after the two were dismissed and made the most of the opportunity when Keiran Poole scythed through to make it 16-4.
Time was not on the Lions’ side, but they didn’t bow their heads and set up a grandstand finish when Jackson Merritt found some space and barrelled over.
Joel Roberts converted to cut the lead to six at 16-10.
Gerringong threw all they had at the Knights in the dying stages, but they couldn’t find a way through and Alexander’s one-pointer on the siren sealed the win.
Whittaker, Alexander and Brent Wake were the pick of the Knights, while Roberts, Merritt and Chris Mann did all they could for Gerringong.