Warilla, Gerringong slug out nail-biting Group Seven draw

RUGBY LEAGUE

Time will tell if it was a grand final preview, but bragging rights were shared in an enthralling 16-16 stalemate between Gerringong and Warilla on Saturday at Michael Cronin Oval.

Everyone expected a down-to-the-wire battle between last year's grand finalists and that's what they got, as Lions centre Peter Cronin crossed for a game-tying try with seven minutes remaining.

Joel Roberts couldn't nail the sideline conversion attempt, setting up a tense finish.

Gerringong had a chance to snatch victory but five-eighth Pat Cronin shanked a relatively easy field goal attempt with three minutes to play.

The Gorillas led 16-12 at half-time, though they rarely threatened the home team's try-line in the second half and were forced to defend.

They managed to keep their line intact, but the sin-binning of Aaron Henry - the best player on the field - in the 67th minute left them vulnerable.

The Lions were finally rewarded for their perseverance with Cronin's try.

"I'll take a [premiership] point here. When you're playing Gerringong at Gerringong, any points here is tough," Warilla coach Peter Hooper said.

"We made some great plays at crucial times and that's what you need. We've got big game players and we all looked forward to coming here today."

The Gorillas went into the match without Nick Lazerevski and Beau Sewell and lost Jesse Dee to injury before half-time.

Gerringong were without their key playmakers Brad Davidson and Rixon Russell.

They also lost back-rowers Kal Collins and Lloyd Bowen with knee injuries midway through the first half.

"I'll take the one point," Lions coach Mick Cronin said.

"They've got a couple of players missing, too, but we started with a few missing and then we lose Collins and Lloyd Bowen, so it was a tough effort. Three of the reserves played reserve grade.

"You have to give both sides credit. Anyone who came and went home disappointed doesn't know what football is all about. It was a tough game of football."

Dee crossed for the first of his two tries after 12 minutes to give the visitors a 6-0 lead, while winger Chad Lisch scored a runaway try against the run of play to make it 10-0.

The Lions got on the board with Isaac Russell's try before Roberts converted his own try to give Gerringong a 12-10 lead.

The Gorillas had the last say of the half when Henry broke the defensive line and put Dee away for his second try.

"We probably didn't execute the way we wanted to, but we had to defend with 12 blokes for 20 minutes," Hooper said.

"I'm pretty proud of the effort we put in today."

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