A LATE penalty goal enabled Port Kembla to snatch a surprise 16-all draw with Kiama during their Group 7 Rugby League encounter on Sunday.
The teams were locked at 10-all at the break at Noel Mulligan Oval, and proved unable to end the stalemate after 80 minutes.
The Blacks were minus inspirational leader Mark Simon throughout a stop-start, occasionally fiery game which while not of the highest quality understandably kept both sets of supporters entertained.
Despite an error-filled, sluggish start the Knights opened their account first, speedster Jacob Dolan streaking away and running 50 metres to score in the eighth minute.
Port finally capitalised on Kiama’s ill-discipline, spreading the ball wide and finding Sifa Hala, who cut the deficit to two points.
A combination of mistakes and sub-par last-tackle options meant no further addition to the score-line until the 32nd minute.
After going the length of field within just a few tackles, the Blacks hit the lead.
Josh Michalowski passed from dummy half to his brother Matt, who nabbed a converted try in his 50th first grade match for the club.
A few Port errors gifted the visitors golden field position, and halfback Jack Alexander’s bullet-like pass sent Dolan over in the corner for his second four-pointer.
The home side were forced to play the second stanza without injured prop Jack Garrett, and were a man down shortly after the resumption when Kaine Edwards was sin-binned for dissent.
The Knights took advantage; pivot Kieran Poole making a break after catching the defence napping.
Brent Wake backed up for 16-10.
Frustrations boiled over as in an almost comical situation, Nathan Michalowski was also given ten minutes literally as the home side regained their full complement of players.
The Blacks held firm though, and ultimately it was Kiama who finished the game with 12 men when veteran Marc Laird was binned.
They paid the price almost immediately, with Josh Windisch pouncing on a Josh Maude grubber-kick.
Unfortunately for Port, Windisch’s sideline conversion hit the post and was waved away.
With less than three minutes remaining, Windisch potted a penalty goal from in front.
A grandstand finish beckoned after Port turned the ball over, but Alexander’s late field goal attempt sprayed wide and the match finished up a draw.
Maude, Josh Edwards and Karl Stowers were the best for the Port side, while Cameron Whittaker, Wake and Alexander worked hard for Kiama.