TWO tries by Gerringong Lions’ winger Joel Doosey has helped his team secure back-to-back first grade Group 7 premiers at the Collegians Sporting Complex.
A try either side of half-time by the winger, who missed out on last year’s title, secured the Lions 10-nil victory against the Warilla-Lake South Gorillas, in front a record crowd of more than 5,500.
A smart kick by Warilla halfback Josh Kent earned his team an early drop-out, which nearly saw Jesse Dee open the afternoon’s scoring.
After shrugging off Peter Cronin, with the line wide open, Dee dropped the ball, thanks to pressure from Joel Roberts.
Despite that pressure, it was the Lions who open the scoring after 10 minutes.
A quick shift of hands from skipper Brad Davidson and centre Peter Cronin put winger Joel Doosey into score in the left corner.
Roberts failed in his attempt to convert and the minor-premiers led 4-nil after 12.
Roberts extended the Lions lead to six in the 18th minute, on the back of a penalty against Warilla.
With eight to go, Kent pounced on a grounded pass from the Lions, toed it ahead and somehow flicked it up to winger Jarryd Pepper, before going out.
This led to the Gorillas parking themselves deep in the Lions zone, but they were held out numerous occasions by the determined Gerringong defence.
With two minutes to go in half and rain pelting down, Rixon Russell attempted and missed a field goal from 20m out, to try and stretch his team’s lead.
At the half, the score was 6-nil.
Four minutes into the second, Chad Lisch was ruled to have knocked-on while trying the catch a bomb.
He then proceeded to spray referee William Drury, which resulted in a penalty right in front of the uprights for Gerringong.
Roberts elected to take the two but couldn’t land the kick and the score remained 6-nil.
After earning a repeat set, the Lions scored the day’s second try, again through Doosey, who flew onto a rocket pass from Roberts and cut inside his opponents.
Roberts’ boot again failed him, as he again missed the kick and the score remained 10-nil.
With 21 to go, Warilla were denied a try off Blair Grant grubber, after the ball is ruled to go dead before Blake Colgan placed the ball down.
As the match headed into the final 20 minutes, the physicality stepped up a notch, with both teams trying to gain the ascendancy.
Lions’ Michael Brown was then denied try with 16 to go following a Lisch knock-on, because he was ruled to be in front of the kicker.
Roberts missed another chance to add an extra two with 13 remaining, following Aaron Henry being penalised for a high shot of Rixon Russell.
The match was nearly sealed by Isaac Russell with eight to go, when he pounced on a loose Warilla pass and scooted towards the line, only for Lisch to take him out of play, metres before the line.
But the experienced Lions defence held out the Gorillas and secured their second successive title, something that hasn’t been done the Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles in 2006/07.
Best for the Lions were man-of-the-match Kal Collins, Peter Cronin, Joel Roberts and Nathan Ford, while the Gorillas were led by Josh Kent, Jesse Dee, Josh Dowell and Blake Colgan.