Gerringong playmaker Brad Davidson kicked two crunch time field goals to lift the Lions to a stunning 14-13 extra time victory over Warilla in Sunday's grand final at Nowra Showground.
It was shades of 2010 when Pat Cronin nailed a last-second field goal to secure a 21-20 grand final triumph over the Gorillas.
Warilla had one hand on the premiership trophy on Sunday after fullback Craig Nolan’s field goal broke a 12-all deadlock with eight minutes remaining.
But the Lions kept fighting and found themselves 30m out from the Gorillas’ line with time almost up.
They shifted the ball to Davidson and he sent it sailing through the uprights with a perfect strike for the game-tying point.
Warilla enjoyed a territorial advantage in the opening minutes of the golden point period, but Nolan and five-eighth Jesse Dee each misfired on field goal attempts.
With just over a minute left in the first half of extra time, Cronin threw the ball to Davidson on the last tackle in almost exactly same spot as his previous attempt.
Despite having to rush his kick to beat two oncoming opponents, the man the Lions refer to as ''Davo'' looked up to see the ball wobbling over the crossbar.
Jubilant Gerringong supporters reacted with hugs and high-fives, while devastated Gorillas fans stared in silent disbelief.
The Lions secured their 17th premiership in club history. They were playing in their fourth successive grand final and made amends for losses to Albion Park-Oak Flats and Warilla in the previous two years.
‘‘One thing I want to say about my side is that people all underestimate their toughness,’’ Gerringong coach Mick Cronin said.
‘‘They all think we’re going to get bullied and bashed. They’re a tough side and today it proved again.
‘‘I thought we were the best side last year and I was disappointed with the way it ended, because the players deserved better, so today was very pleasing.
‘‘Just the way they did it, I’m very proud. It’s as good as it gets for me.’’
As expected, the premiership showdown was tight from start to finish.
The crowd was surprisingly quiet for most of the first half and both teams seemed to be feeling each other out, waiting for the other to crack.
Warilla captain Aaron Henry put his stamp on the game when he set up a 20th-minute try under the posts for hooker Beau Sewell.
The Lions finally got on the scoreboard with centre Corey Mulhall’s try, while Peter Cronin’s conversion made it six-all.
Less than two minutes later they were in again through backrower Michael Brown. Cronin’s conversion made it 12-6 at half-time.
Henry stepped up again in the second half with his second assist, putting Nolan into space for a try, which he converted to knot the score.
Nolan’s field goal gave his side the lead and the Gorillas looked like they had defended well enough down the stretch to preserve victory.
But Davidson was the man of the hour.
His clutch performance ensured his name will be etched into Lions folklore forever.
‘‘We’re absolutely stoked,’’ Gong captain Ryan Staples said.
‘‘We were flat out and it could’ve gone either way. Luckily we got a couple of field goals.
‘‘The thing that got us there is that we didn’t panic or drop our heads when they got the field goal. We ran straight back to the 50m line ready to go again, so it was meant to be I think.
‘‘It was unbelievable. The whole town’s here. It’s all good times.’’
Warilla had won 11 straight games heading into the grand final, including a 26-16 defeat of Gong in the major semifinal.
The Lions earned a rematch after beating Jamberoo in the preliminary final and finished the season on the ultimate high.
Gerringong didn’t have it as good in the reserve grade decider, going down 18-10 to Warilla.
Kiama beat Berry-Shoalhaven Heads 26-10 in the under 18 grand final, while Kiama also prevailed in the Ladies League Tag, overcoming favourites Nowra-Bomaderry 12-10.
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