WARILLA-LAKE South has exorcised the demons of two consecutive narrow VB South Coast Group 7 Rugby League grand final defeats, also ending a 14-year first grade premiership drought.
The Gorillas avenged last year’s devastating one-point loss in a classic decider against Gerrin-gong, belting the Lions 36-6 in the rematch at Centenary Field, Albion Park, yesterday.
The Gorillas also lost the 2009 decider against Albion Park-Oak Flats by just three points.
“We were just really hungry for a win and we were going to do what it takes,” Warilla captain/ coach Linken Hutchinson said.
“You always remember winning and losing, but it made us even more hungry. Nothing was going to stop us today.”
Running into the breeze during the first half, Warilla built its win on near impregnable, desperation defence in the first half and an unstoppable second half surge.
Despite the emphatic margin, the first stanza at least lived up to the hype of the ‘War of the Jungle II’.
The opening 10 minutes was a typically cautious feeling out process.
After the Lions were unable to defuse a Gorillas attacking kick, quick passing and classy play from vice-captain Andrew Diomei sent centre Ngatai Hetet over for 6-nil.
Brutal Warilla defence forced the defending premiers into a number of errors, the Lions under siege more often than Steven Seagal.
Something had to give and half-back Luke Roberts dived over from dummy half for 10-nil.
Desperation defence kept the Warilla line intact, Gerringong also denied a try due to a forward pass.
After a relatively quiet first half, in the 33rd minute Gerringong pivot Pat Cronin injected himself into the contest, getting a miracle pass away with several defenders hanging off him. Interchange player Nathan Ford was the recipient and cut the deficit to four points.
A Nick Lazarevski penalty goal closed out the first half scoring.
Despite the hard-fought first 40 minutes, the second was almost entirely one-way traffic.
A piggy-back penalty led to the Gorillas forcing consecutive goal-line drop-outs.
Tyson Brown was also held up over the line, but eight minutes after the resumption the concerted pressure was too much to bear, Warilla’s Luke Roberts crossing for his sceond try which was converted.
The Lions were powerless to stop the Gorillas’ onslaught, scoring two tries in the space of three minutes.
A brilliant Diomei off-load enabled Mark Walsh to score under the posts, while man of the match Alex Volkanovski streaked away for a commanding 30-6 lead.
The Lions kept trying but were unable to threaten without enough ball at the money end of the field and momentum completely against them.
A late Ryan Johnston try capped off a resounding win.
“I think we won in the first half, running into a stiff breeze and just came home with a wet sail,” Hutchinson said.
“To beat a side that tackles like that is very hard to do. We asked ourselves how hungry we were to win it and if it takes running 50 metres and making a tackle it takes that.”
Volkanovski also praised his side’s defence.
“Some of the players were unreal,” he said.
“Walshy, Wattsy, they just killed it for us. They were my man of the match anyway, because they just went all day.”
Warilla-Lake South 36 (Luke Roberts 2, Ngatai Hetet, Mark Walsh, Alex Volkanovski, Ryan Johnston tries, Nick Lazarevski 6 goals) d Gerringong 6 (Nathan Ford try, Joel Roberts goal).