THE Nowra-Bomaderry Jets and Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles played out the first draw (30-all) of the 2018 Group Seven season on Sunday at the Bomaderry Sporting Complex.
The hosts, who were holding their annual Indigenous day, jumped out of the blocks, scoring 18 points within the first 13 minutes.
The first came after just two minutes, following a 60 metre kick return by evasive fullback Jake Gould.
Three tackles after Gould’s break, the ball was spread to the right through Ryan James, before the quick thinking of hooker Kurt Quinlan put winger Isaac Mumberson over down the short side.
Half Zac Blattner converted from the sideline for 6-nil.
The hosts lead was doubled soon after, following a try-saving tackle by James.
A Tyson Simpson bomb was left to bounce by Eagles fullback Danny Sartori – ball which was pounced on by Jets winger Dale Warton.
Blattner landed another sideline conversion to extend the lead to 12.
The Jets dominance on the scoreboard continued minutes later, helped by a controversial penalty against the Eagles on their own line.
Quinlan was again involved, this time perfectly timing a pass out of dummy-half to lock Matt Rouen, who dived over untouched.
Blattner converted from close to in front of the posts, for 18-nil after 13 minutes.
Despite their best efforts, the Eagles continued to be repelled by the committed Jets defence in the opening 18 minutes.
Finally, on the back of a Jets error coming out of their own end, the Eagles had their first when half Dylan Lucas stepped inside his defender to score.
Lucas converted his own try for 18-6 – a quarter of the way through the match.
Both teams then had chances to had to their scores – the Eagles through Brock Harrison and the Jets through Gould, but handling errors proved costly on both occasions.
The Eagles then appeared to finally have their second when Jake Brisbane hit Dallas Harrison with a sharp pass, only for it to be called forward by referee William Drury.
There was no calling back George Campbell five minutes later though, with the dynamic ball-runner spotting a gap, after a wrap around play, to score next to the sticks.
Lucas converted for 18-12, which is how it remained until half-time.
After the break, the Jets again started the stronger, highlighted by a crunching Santino Batagiliolo ball and all tackle.
But just when they appeared set to score their fourth, a Simpson cut-out pass ended in the hands of Brock Harrison and the winger ran 80 metres to score.
Lucas converted to level the scores at 18-all.
The Eagles were well and truly soaring eight minutes later – following a Quinlan sin-bin for a ruck infringement – when Jamie Cairney powered over to score.
Lucas landed his fourth conversion for 24-18.
With 20 minutes to go, inspiration forward Josh Sainsbury created something out of nothing coming out of his own end, to put fullback Kane Ball into space – with the latter running 60 metres to score under the black dot.
Lucas again converted and the Eagles led by 12 – having scored 30 unanswered points.
Just when you thought the Eagles were going to go on with the victory, the hosts hit back.
After an error and penalty coming our of their own end, centre James carried three defenders across the line to score the Jets’ fourth try.
Blattner missed his first conversion of the afternoon, as the score remained at 30-22.
This spurred the Jets into action and after Trent Waldron was held up, the Jets had their fifth when a cross-field Blattner bomb was dropped by Lauchlan Bryant-Smith, into the arms of Mumberson to score.
Blattner’s conversion, for 30-28, set-up a grandstand finish with nine minutes remaining.
The game was then end to end, with both team having chances to secure the two points.
But with four minutes on the clock, the Eagles were again on the wrong side of a controversial decision by Drury, handing the Jets a penalty 10 metres out and a chance to level the scores.
Blattner did so with ease and it was 30-all with four to play.
In the final play of the game, Brisbane had a field goal attempt to win it for the visitors, but it sailed wide, as the score finished 30-all.
For the hosts, James, Simpson and Batagiliolo were standouts, while Sainsbury, Lucas and Cairney did all they could for the Eagles.