ILLAWARRA RUGBY LEAGUE
Collegians pulled off a pulsating comeback win in yesterday's major semi-final against Helensburgh.
Trailing 28-20 with time almost up, Collies scored two tries in three minutes to snatch a stunning 30-28 victory.
The Tigers had led the entire game and were shattered to let it slip away in crunch time.
Helensburgh will square off with Wests in Sunday's final, while Collies will start preparing for the grand final.
"We were under the pump the whole game and we still came away with the two points and we're into the grand final. You can't get much better than that," Dogs captain Jarrod Thompson said. "It was a real credit to the boys. It just shows how strong our team is this year."
Thompson was at the heart of the late fightback, scoring under the posts to bring his side within two points.
The home side sensed the Tigers were reeling and were quickly back in ideal field position after a penalty.
Five-eighth Sam Duggan tore through an indecisive defensive line moments later to score the match-winning try.
"It just shows we can come away with the win, even if we're behind by eight points and there's not long to go we can still manage to get the job done," Thompson said.
"It wasn't our best football by far. We've played much better football than that. But it's good that we can play a poor game and still come away with a win against a top-quality team."
The Tigers were up 4-0 after Hayden McCrea's early try and extended the margin to 10-0 with Jason Raper's converted try.
Dogs hooker Jimmy Storer's solo try made it 10-6 before Wayne Bremner crossed out wide to give the Tigers a 14-6 lead.
It was 18-6 after five-eighth Jarrod Boyle danced around four defenders to score, but a try to Collies fullback Greg Davis cut the margin to 18-10 at half-time.
Raper's second try put the Tigers ahead by 12 before Storer replied with his second try to bring the Dogs to within six.
Davis added another try for Collegians but Duggan missed the conversion.
A defensive error led to Bremner's second try and McCrea added the extras for a 28-20 lead.
But the Burgh wouldn't score again.
"Everything that could've gone wrong in terms of our energy and game plan did go wrong in that first half," Collies coach Scott Logan said.
"We weren't helped by our friends in the middle. There was a massive penalty count at the front end of the game which catapulted them to a decent lead.
"But to get into a grand final in two weeks time, the spirit was definitely there. We found something and I'm really happy with the boys."
While the Tigers know they are still in the hunt for their first premiership in 20 years, the loss was tough to stomach.
"That's semi-final football. Thirroul went through a similar thing with us last week when we got them at the death," coach Ben Haran said.
"We've done the hard work during the year to give ourselves two chances, and we're going to be rearing to go next week because this club wants to be in a first grade grand final."
The Tigers beat Thirroul 22-14 in reserve grade and lost 26-14 to Corrimal in the Coal Shield.
Shellharbour under 18 beat Wests 24-16.