Jamberoo end 43-year premiership drought

Group 7 first grade premiers Jamberoo. Photo: SPORTS FOCUS PHOTO
Group 7 first grade premiers Jamberoo. Photo: SPORTS FOCUS PHOTO

THE Jamberoo Superoos won their first Group 7 premiership in the top grade in 43 years on Sunday, when they defeated the Kiama Knights 18-14 at the Collegians Sporting Complex.

The Knights, who were in their first grand final in the top grade since 1990, jumped out of the blocks in the decider, as Jamberoo knocked-on in first tackle of match after a loose carry by Ben Barnard.

Two tackles later, off the scrum, the Knights didn’t let the chance go to waste and opened the scoring for the afternoon – Oliver Powell got a flick pass away to his winger Jay Delaney to score on right edge.

Cameron Vazzoler hit the upright in his conversion attempt from the right sideline, keeping it at 4-nil.

Five minutes in, Superoos hooker James Asquith was carried from field with leg injury.

Knights extended their lead in seventh minute, when Cameron Cornell out jumped Dean Watling to collect a bomb from Vazzoler.

Vazzoler’s kick from left touchline fell just short, as Knights led 8-nil after as many minutes.

In the 13th minute, the minor premiers hit back through centre Trent Ryan.

Five-eighth Josh Kent sent a bomb skyward, which was failed to be diffused by Kiama fullback Tom Atkins – who let it bounce and the ball was collected by Ryan, for the Superoos first of the afternoon.

Watling added the extras for 8-6 after 15.

In the 19th minute, Ryan went agonisingly close to scoring to team’s second – only desperate Knights line defence prevented him from doing so.

The Roos didn’t have to wait long for their second try though, as Kent sliced through the line and brushed off a number of defenders in the 21st minute to score.

Watling converted from right in front, for the Roos first lead 12-8.

In the 27th minute, a Vazzoler 40/20 kick swung the momentum back to the Knights and put them on the attack, deep inside Roo territory. 

On their second straight set on the Roo line, Kiama captain Keiran Poole found a hole in the Jamberoo defensive line and ran around to score his team’s third.

Kiama regained the lead 14-12 after Vazzoler’s conversion, with nine minutes to play in the first half.

With two minutes remaining in the half, Watling made a half break down the sideline, following a kick, but he was chased down and taken into touch by Poole.

One minute later, Poole was controversially denied his team’s fourth, running onto a Vazzoler pass, which was adjudged to be forward by referee William Drury.

Kiama led 14-12 at the break.

Four minutes into the second half, Knights fans thought they had extended their lead when Cornell tip-toed down the sideline and dived over to score – only for it to be pulled back as the winger was adjudged to have stepped out.

Cornell again was in the heat of the action three minutes later, as he found space down the left sideline, only to be brought down by Roos fullback Mark Asquith.

In the 13th minute, it was the Roos chance to be denied, as centre Jake Clarke was held up over the line – by the again desperate Kiama defence.

Through the first 25 minutes of the second half, both teams had numerous chances to score but poor execution prevented anyone registering points.

Following a Ryan 50m break, off a smart Josh Kent pass, Superoos’ Brendan Smith was held up over the line by three Kiama defenders – with 13 minutes to go.

The Knights resilient defence was finally broken with nine minutes remaining – as Ryan stepped his way through the defenders, for his second of the afternoon.

Watling made it three from three from the boot, as the Roos led 18-14 with eight to play.

Despite their best efforts in the final minutes, Kiama couldn’t close the margin, as Jamberoo ran out winners 18-14.

Best for Jamberoo, in their first premiership win since 1974, were man of the match Josh Kent, Grigg brothers, Corey and Aaron and two-try hero Ryan, while Kiama’ best were Poole, Vazzoler, Cameron Whittaker and Josh Toohey.

Following the loss, Kiama’s coach Matt O’Brien said he couldn’t be prouder of the way his boys performed on the day.

“Our boys played their absolute hearts out and it’s a tough loss to cop,” he said.

“In saying that, Jamberoo played amazing and absolutely deserve the win.

“Despite our loss, it’s been a great day for the day - there’s no one more happy than me to see the women and reserves win, as I’ve seen first hand all the hard work they’ve put in.

“On the same token, there’s no one more shattered in our loss, because these boys left it all out there on the field.”