THE Kiama Knights ended a 34-year premiership drought on Sunday, as they defeated the Jamberoo Superoos 28-14 to claim the Artie Smith Cup, for winning the 2019 Group Seven first grade title.
At the Collegians Sporting Complex, in a replay of the 2017 decider, both teams had early chances in the first five minutes before Superoos' Mark Asquith opened the scoring, just seconds after he was held up.
Kurt Field added the extras and it was 6-nil after seven minutes.
The Knights fans didn't have to wait long for a response, as Tom Angel scored four minutes later.
Following strong carries by Toby Nobes and Kieran Poole, Kiama worked the ball to the left which saw Dylan Morris put backrower Angel over.
#Kiama#Knights coach Matt Clarke chats about his side’s 28-14 #GroupSeven grand final win against the #Jamberoo#Superoos at the Collegians Sporting Complex - ending a 34-year title drought. #RugbyLeague#Group7@CountryRL@SCRegister@mercury_sportspic.twitter.com/CGKqCtl84v— Courtney Rhys Ward (@CortRhysWard) September 15, 2019
Cam Vazzoler couldn't convert from close to the western sideline and it was 6-4.
Kiama, losers of the past two grand finals, had their first lead when out of nothing, five-eighth Tom Atkins grubbered the ball through and planted the ball down in the in-goal.
Vazzoler made no mistake with his second conversion and it was 10-6 after 19 minutes.
The black and reds lead stretched to six when Vazzoler landed a penalty goal, after a late hit by Kieran Pearce on the Knights half - making it 12-6 after 25 minutes.
Vazzoler missed the chance to extend the lead to eight, when he missed a penalty goal in the 29th minute, following an indiscretion by Jamberoo's Corey Grigg.
That mattered little as, minutes later, skipper Poole shaped to pass to Tasman Gilmore before slicing through the line and scoring the Knights' third.
Vazzoler added the extras and it was 18-6 after 32.
The near-perfect half by the Knights was capped off by an amazing length of the field try by Dylan Morris.
In the final minute before half-time, Vazzoler kicked through from his own 30 metre line before speedster Morris won the footrace to the ball, the score under the sticks.
Vazzoler's conversion made it 24-6 at the break.
The Superoos were never going to go down without a fight and lock Luke Asquith showed that first hand when he powered across in the 58th minute.
Field pushed the kick to the right, as the Knights led 24-10.
#Kiama#Knights skipper Kieran Poole, who’s played more than 20 seasons for the club, breaks down his side’s 28-14 #GroupSeven grand final against the #Jamberoo#Superoos - ending 34 years of heartache. #RugbyLeague#Group7@CountryRL@SCRegister@mercury_sportspic.twitter.com/hK90c8DVvs— Courtney Rhys Ward (@CortRhysWard) September 15, 2019
With 13 minutes to play, the Knights extended their lead when Cal Thistlethwaite out-jumped Dean Watling on a cross-field bomb by Vazzoler, before the Kiama centre offloaded to Matt Morris to score in the corner.
Vazzoler pushed the conversion across the face and Kiama led 28-10 with 10 to play.
In the dying moments, Field added a consolation try for the Roos - a try which he failed to convert - as the Knights ran out winners 28-14.
In the win, the man of the match Vazzoler, Atkins, Angel and Luke Chalker were fantastic for the Knights, as Luke and Mark Asquith, Jono Dallas and Field gave their all for the Roos.