Mittagong Lions win Group 6 reserve grade premiership

It was an extra time thriller that had everyone on the edge of their seats.

But in the end the Mittagong Lions claimed the reserve grade premiership for 2017.

With five minutes left in the match Camden Rams crossed the try line to level the score at 18-18 and take the game into extra time.

At that point with five minutes played each way, it was still anyone's game.

But when Dan Donnelly crossed for the Lions in the first period of extra time, it gave the Highlands team and their fans a taste of victory.

The try came off high a fifth tackle kick that proved too tricky for Camden and the Lions were able to regather and go on the attack.

But in the second period of extra time, it almost all went wrong for Mittagong.

The Lions gave away two penalties to give Camden prime field position.

The Rams capitalised on the opportunity and scored to bring Mittagong’s lead back to just two points.

But Camden’s kicker was unable to convert and Lions players and fans celebrated as the final buzzer sounded.

Lions coach Billy Hayward said it was an exceptional and gutsy win from his side.

“We spoke about someone having to step up and do the job. They all stepped up when it counted. These boys worked so hard all year, they really deserve it,” he said.

“The game was on the line- we could have thrown the towel in, we could have given up but we just kept coming and coming.”

The final result proved how crucial Geoffrey McKeown’s accuracy with the boot was, as he converted all four Lions tries.

In a match where momentum refused to rest with one side, it was a tough first half for the Lions who came into the decider with just one loss for the year.

Mittagong was first to score five minutes into the match off the back of a penalty.

Desperate goal line defence kept the Rams out but not for long.

Momentum quickly turned after Camden evened the score with 22 minutes left in the opening half.

The Rams then took the lead with five and half minutes left and went to the break ahead 12-6.

Mittagong brought renewed energy to the second half and after scoring two quick tries it looked like they had enough in them to seal the win.

But the late try to Camden sent the match into extra time.

Throughout the match vocal Mittagong and Camden fans left no one in doubt of who they were at Campbelltown Stadium to support.

Mittagong captain Simon Reid was awarded best on ground for the match.

Hayward said his side’s mental preparation in the lead up to the match had been a key factor in helping them take home the trophy despite a few errors late in the match.

“We knew some time in the game [we’re] going to get fatigued and not going to think properly and [we’d] have to look outside the square. They did that tonight.

“We took the most of our opportunities with two hands and that’s what grand finals are all about. We knew we had the heart to get us over the line.”


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