GERRRINGONG have set up a mouth-watering Group 7 clash with Warilla next weekend after downing Kiama 34-6 at Michael Cronin Oval on Saturday.
It was the Lions’ third straight comprehensive win, following big victories over Berry and Nowra-Bomaderry in recent weeks, and the reigning premiers seem to be coming into form at the right time of the year.
After a dour start to the match, the Lions skipped out to an 18-nil lead at half-time and added another three tries in the second half to avenge their upset loss to the Knights from earlier in the season.
In front of a large crowd and with 2GB’s Continuous Call Team covering the game, neither side wanted to be the one that gave up the first points and a combination of poor execution and desperate defence meant the game was almost 20 minutes old before the scoreboard attendant was needed.
Penalties weren’t a rare occurrence during the match and a Kiama infringement helped Gerringong on their way to the first points.
Joel Roberts and Patrick Cronin combined to put the Lions deep in Kiama territory and then Cronin capitalised, the five-eighth’s decision to run on the fifth paid off when he crashed over.
Roberts converted for 6-nil.
The crowd could then be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu as the Lions soon went on to grab their second try.
A penalty and Roberts bust again put the Lions right into Kiama territory and this time it was hooker Nathan Ford who proved too strong close to line and crossed in almost the same spot as Cronin did.
Roberts’ second conversion made it 12-nil.
The points continued to flow to Gerringong, Lions’ captain Brad Davidson orchestrating the next attacking raid as he cut through Kiama’s left-hand defence and sent Lloyd Bowen on his way to the line.
Roberts knocked over his third conversion for 18-nil.
Seeing that the game was slipping away from them Kiama, aided by successive penalties late in the half threw everything they had at the Lions but the score wouldn’t change before the break.
The start of the second half couldn’t have been much worse for the visitors, Knights’ hooker Brent Wake sin-binned after four minutes after a run of infringements and Gerringong took advantage of the one-man advantage.
The Cronin brothers, Patrick and Peter, combined with some slick hands to send Joel Doosey over in the corner for 22-nil.
Gerringong invited Kiama back into the game, when they failed to control the ensuing kick-off and the visitors made them pay.
Despite only having 12 men, back-rower Cameron Whittaker found some space out wide, storming onto a deft pass from Dean Martin to score. Matt Gladman converted the try for 22-6.
Any thought of Kiama comeback was soon quashed however when Davidson set up another Lions try.
The playmaker found some space around the ruck to send Jackson Merritt into a yawning gap and the front rower found Rixon Russell in support who went in under the posts.
Roberts’ added another conversion for 28-6.
Roberts continued his strong game soon after, the full-back broke through the defence and got the ball to Adam Moore who left defenders in strewn everywhere as he barreled his way over the line.
Roberts’ converted for 34-6.
Moore’s try would prove to be the last of the game as it petered out into a scrappy finish, the only notable incidents being a knee injury to Russell that saw him leave the field and Kiama captain Marc Laird being sin-binned.
For the Lions Roberts, Davidson and Patrick Cronin had fine games, while for Kiama Whitaker and Aaron and Corey Grigg did all they could.