RUGBY LEAGUE - GROUP 7
Gerringong lock Brad Davidson underlined his value to the Lions with a show-stealing return to halfback in yesterday's 42-22 defeat of Jamberoo in the final at Kiama Showground.
Injuries forced Lions coach Mick Cronin to revamp his starting line-up, with halfback Rixon Russell switching to fullback to cover the absent Joel Roberts (broken hand).
That allowed Davidson to take over the main playmaking role, a move he relished. His combination with Pat Cronin continually posed problems for Jamberoo, particularly in the opening 15 minutes when the Lions surged to a commanding 16-0 lead.
With Roberts at long odds to play in this Sunday's grand final against Warilla, Mick Cronin will almost certainly stick with Davidson at halfback and Russell at fullback.
"I enjoy being in the thick of it, and getting my hands on the ball more.
"That's what I'm after," Davidson said.
"It's been a while. I grew up playing most of my time at five-eighth and like using a bit of instinct, I suppose. I really enjoyed it today.
"We'll see what happens next week. I don't know if Robbo's going to play.
"We'll have to see what Crow [coach] wants."
Mick Cronin wasn't surprised the changes didn't adversely affect his side.
"I didn't think we were going to lose anything," he said.
"Davo probably spoke to me about it when we lost Joel, and Ricco played a bit of fullback with the under 20s at St George. It's just that they haven't played together for a while in those positions.
"I was very happy with the performance."
Centre Peter Cronin crossed for two of Gerringong's eight tries and also proved to be a capable replacement goalkicker for Roberts, booting five of eight conversions.
The Lions led 16-0 after tries to Russell, Dillon Meharg and Adam Thompson. The Superoos capitalised on three straight penalties to score their first try through captain-coach Matt Coelho.
Gong added two more tries through Corey Mulhall and Taylor Hudson before Roos five-eighth Dan Brigham crossed to make it 28-12.
The Lions had the final say of the half with Peter Cronin's unconverted try.
Pride kicked in for Jamberoo and they regrouped in the second half to play the minor premiers evenly. But the damage had been done.
Their gallant run in 2013 came to an end, while Gerringong are preparing for their fourth straight grand final.
"After the last two years, you don't really want to be minor premiers and not be in the grand final again," Davidson said.
"Hopefully we'll pull up all right this week and get the boys rested, and we'll try and get a bit of revenge against Warilla next week.
"It's always going to be tough against Warilla, we know that. They've got a big pack and they're very physical. If we don't turn up with our best performance they're going to put it over us."
While Roberts is highly doubtful, Mick Cronin is hoping back-rower Michael Brown returns after injury kept him out of yesterday's clash.
The Lions are keen to avenge their major semi-final loss to Warilla.
"It was a tough game last week [against Warilla] and we had a few injuries, but the blokes all played well today," Mick Cronin said.
"We bombed some chances, but I give Jamberoo credit. We're lucky because we've got a junior base, and that's something they haven't got. To keep turning up each year and to get to the final, it's not a bad effort by them."