IT had all the billing a top of the table clash deserved and the Gerringong Lions and Jamberoo Superoos didn't disappoint, fighting out a 22-all draw at Kevin Walsh Oval on Saturday.
The match was a see-sawing affair, with the Superooos jumping out to an 18-nil lead at half-time before the Lions ran in 22 unanswered points in the second half as they looked to make it six straight wins.
The Superoos, who were hosting their annual charity day - this time supporting The Man Walk, managed to find the equaliser with under five minutes to go to ensure both sides left with one competition point each.
For the Lions, the win means they still sit two points clear at the top of the table with the bye next week, while Jamberoo retains second spot, one point ahead of Kiama and Nowra-Bomaderry, with the Warilla-Lake South Gorillas to come this week.
It was an ideal start for the home side, as they grabbed the first points in the opening three minutes.
The ever-dangerous Mark Asquith came back against the grain on the Lions' line and found his way over the line.
Kurt Field converted and the Superoos lead 6-nil.
The Lions found themselves on the Superoos' line soon after the Asquith try but a combination of poor execution and resolute Jamberoo defence kept the visitors out.
The Superoos would hold their 6-nil lead until the 27th minute when they extended their lead through Simon Maslanka.
A deflected grubber earned Jamberoo a repeat set and a long shift to the right found Maslanka in space.
After trailing 18-nil at Kevin Walsh Oval, the @GerringongLions fought back to draw 22-all with the Jamberoo Superoos in round seven of the 2020 Group Seven Rugby League competition.— Courtney Rhys Ward (@CortRhysWard) September 5, 2020
Coach Michael Cronin breaks down the result, which keeps them in first.@NSWRL@mercury_sportspic.twitter.com/PY4BgJ3na1
Field knocked over the conversion and Jamberoo lead 12-nil.
Field would soon be in the thick of things again, this time playing provider as he laid on a try for winger Jarryd Smith.
The Superoos fullback jumped into dummy-half on the last tackle and floated a perfect ball to Smith to stroll over untouched.
Filed converted and the Superoos leads was out to 18 and would stand until the break.
The change in ends after half-time bought with it a change in momentum and the Lions soon pegged the Superoos back.
After some seeimingly disjointed attack on the Jamberoo line, Matt Winchester proved to be at his elusive best and strolled over under the posts.
Tyran Wishart added the conversion and lead was back to 18-6 with half an hour to play.
Winchester's try seemed to breathe life into the Lions and they soon started moving the ball downfield with more ease.
With just under 20 minutes remaining, they struck again through Alexander Weir.
The rangy propped showed some silky hands to reel in a Wishart kick and came down under the posts.
Wishart's conversion bought Gerringong within a converted try at 18-12.
The Lions kept up that momentum and the scores were soon level, with Wishart grabbing a try of his own in the ensuing set.
Rookie centre Hamish Holland broke through down the right fringe and found the Gerringong five-eight in support.
Jamberoo Superoos captain/coach Jono Dallas discusses his side’s 22-all Group Seven Rugby League draw with the @GerringongLions at Kevin Wash Oval. They next host the Warilla-Lake South Gorillas on Sunday. @NSWRL@mercury_sportspic.twitter.com/QBRW7IVNyP— Courtney Rhys Ward (@CortRhysWard) September 5, 2020
Wishart added his third conversion and the scores were level at 18-all.
That score would stand until just under 15 remaining when the Lions grabbed their fourth straight try.
Some second phase play on the last tackle caught Jamberoo back-pedalling and Holland found just enough space to crash over out wide.
Wishart couldn't keep up his perfect day with the boot and the Lions lead 22-18.
There was still time for one more twist though and the Superoos obliged.
A Gerringong error put the home side on the attack and they found the equaliser when Maslanka managed to burrow over out wide.
Field stepped up for the sideline conversion, but couldn't add the extras and the scores were locked at 22-all with five to play.
Both sides threw everything they had at it in the final five minutes, including a field goal attempt by Wishart that was pushed wide but there proved to be no separating the competition's two top sides.
In the draw, man of the match Tim Moore, Wishart and Holland were the Lions' best, while Mark and Luke Asquith, as well as Kurt Field, did all they could for the hosts.