TWO pieces of magic from Kiama Knights halfback Jack Alexander in the first and last minutes of their Centenary match have allowed his side to escape with a 30-28 win over Jamberoo Superoos at Kiama Showground on Saturday.
He kicked a first minute 40-20 kick that led directly to the first try of the game and scooped up a Jamberoo kick with 30 seconds remaining and raced 80 metres to steal the match, after the Superoos had the game seemingly in the bag.
Played in front of a huge crowd who had gathered to celebrate the Knights milestone, the home side went in at full strength, while the Jamberoo side were without rampaging back-rower Robbie Noble and winger Ben Barnard who are suffering long-term injuries.
The game started with Jamberoo on the back foot, when at the end of the first set of tackles of the day, Alexander, with a strong southerly breeze at his back, landed a 40-20 kick and with Jamberoo trying to get back on side from the tap-restart, Knights fullback Tom Atkins took advantage to stroll over beside the posts. Alexander converted for a 6-0 lead.
Jamberoo’s inability to stop opposition teams scoring early points this season continued as the Knights, with their tails up, raced in two more tries, both to recalled right winger Oliver Powell, and at 16-0 inside the first 15 minutes, it looked like a long afternoon for the visitors.
But as they did in last week’s game against Warilla, the Jamberoo side steadied the ship and in the 25th minute second-rower Ben Jones sent winger Chris Woods over and Matt Coelho landed the sideline conversion to get the Superoos on the board.
The Knights seemed to have dropped their intensity and Jamberoo took advantage.
Firstly a Jono Dallas grubber-kick rebounding off a Knights leg and Coelho touched down and minutes later centre Josh Champion caught the defence napping to score from dummy-half and with Coelho converting both tries, suddenly the Superoos had taken an 18-16 lead.
Alexander was able to stem the bleeding when he landed a penalty goal from close range as the halftime bell rang to see the sides go to the break tied up at 18-all.
The start of the second half saw both sides trying to establish the ascendancy and it took 15 minutes before Jamberoo hit the lead again when five-eighth Mark Asquith took on the defence close to the line to score and Jarrod Schodde landed the conversion for a 24-18 lead.
Kiama eventually worked their way back into opposition territory and good play on the fifth tackle on the blind-side saw centre Corey Grigg power over, but Alexander missed the conversion to leave their side trailing by two.
A clever one-on-one strip by former Knight and one of his side’s best on the day, James Gilmore, gave the Superoos important field position and three tackles later front-rower Gavin Jarrett crashed over, but Schodde missed the conversion, but the visitors lead was back to six at 28-22.
The Knights weren’t finished however and with seven minutes remaining replacement Travis Poole, celebrating his 21st birthday, squeezed over in the corner, but Alexander missed the conversion to close the gap to just two.
Jamberoo seemed to have weathered the storm – enter Alaxander!
On their final play after working the ball into seeming safety, a grubber-kick, seemingly trying to force a goal-line dropout, was scooped up by Alexander who burst into open spaces and raced 80 metres, hand in the air in triumph, to score in the corner, much to the delight of the huge and vocal Kiama crowd.
In a game that had the crowd on its feet for most of the day, Cameron Whittaker, Dean Gentle, Matt Gladman and Alexander shone for Kiama, while James Gilmore, Gavin Jarrett, Jono Dallas and Ben Jones played strongly for the beaten Superoos.