KIAMA Knights have put the horrors of their long second round losing sequence to bed after two successive wins and finally wrapped up a semi-final spot after a hard-fought 26-8 win over Port Kembla Blacks on a wet and windy Kiama Showground on Sunday.
In conditions that were hardly conducive to open football, both side struggled at times, and when the Knights jumped out to an 8-nil lead in the opening 12 minutes through winger Jacob Dolan, and with the wind at their backs, it looked like they were in for an easy afternoon.
But with some great ball handling in the difficult conditions, the Blacks picked up their workrate and managed get back into the game though an 18th minute Tane Sturmey try and for the remainder of the half actually looked the more positive side and with the wind at their backs in the second half, would probably have considered themselves favourites.
But as often happens in situations like this, the Blacks failed to capitalise on several great opportunities and were made to pay when a high kick from Knights co-captain Marc Laird was fumbled, the ball was spun wide for centre Corey Grigg to dive over wide out. Prop Matt Gladman landed a superb conversion to extend their lead to 14-8.
Just three minutes later they again put their stamp on the game when Jacob Morrison took on the Blacks defence up the middle to score under the posts and Gladman’s conversion pushed their advantage to 20-4.
The Blacks then gave themselves a sniff of getting back into the game when hooker James Weir found himself on the end of a backline movement to score in the corner, but a close range penalty goal from Gladman and great solo effort from fullback Matt Emerson finished off the Knights effort.
In the end both coaches agreed they had had enough and called the game off with five minutes remaining.
Marc Laird, Cameron Whittaker, Emerson and Gladman were best in a good Knights effort, while young tyros Tane Sturmey and Jack Garrett were head and shoulders above their Blacks teammates as their side’s best.