GROUP SEVEN RUGBY LEAGUE
Jamberoo field general Matt Coelho scored a try in the dying minutes to secure a 20-14 triumph over Kiama in Saturday's elimination semifinal at Kevin Walsh Oval.
Underlining his reputation as one of Group Seven's best support players, Coelho positioned himself perfectly after a break down the left flank by centre Tim Small, taking a well-timed pass and sprinting away in open space to score under the posts.
The gallant Knights had tied the score at 14-all moments earlier with winger Jay Delaney's try and appeared to be finishing stronger.
They kept fighting to the very end and were camped on the Superoos' line in the final 60 seconds. But the home team held on to set up a minor semi-final duel with Milton-Ulladulla this Saturday at Mollymook Oval.
"I'm just stoked to get through to the next round, especially for the boys. They've worked so hard this year so it's awesome for them," Coelho said.
"The feeling within the group is unbelievable. It's such a tight-knit team and it really showed there at the end where we never gave up. I couldn't be more happy for the boys."
Whether it was nerves or fatigue in the warm weather, both teams squandered ideal scoring opportunities.
"We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times," Coelho said.
"It was definitely hot out there. Our big fellas felt it and there was a lot of dropped ball there for both teams. We can't afford to do that against any of the top three teams or they'll really put some points on us."
Centre Josh Saunders scored Jamberoo's opening try before Kiama's Mr Reliable, co-captain Marc Laird, crossed under the posts for a 6-4 lead.
That seemed to stir the Roos into action and they responded with tries to fullback Jarrod Schodde and Small for a 14-6 lead.
The Knights had the last say of the half, closing the gap to 14-10 with five-eighth Kieran Poole's try.
The score didn't change for 30 minutes of the second half until Delaney's try brought Kiama level. Extra time loomed before Small and Coelho combined for the match-winning try.
"Full credit to Kiama because they just kept coming at us," Coelho said.
"In saying that, we were the better team in the first half. We cut them up a fair bit and had a lot more opportunities, and we just needed to make that last pass stick.
"We'll have a look at that on the video and get back to work on Tuesday."
The Knights were left to rue missed opportunities.
"We didn't stick to our game plan early. It made it hard in the end and we were trying to catch them up," veteran Jade Lucas said.
"We knew they were starting to tire, but semi-finals go down to the wire and we just couldn't get those last points to stay in it.
"We were working well in D, it was just our execution and a couple of silly penalties didn't help. The refs are going to blow what they see and they're not going to change their decision.
"The effort was there, but it's a really young side and hopefully they'll learn from this and come back better for it next year. We've had a good year, we just didn't want to end it yet."