Warilla down Gerringong to claim Group 7 grand final

Warilla emphatically ended their 14-year premiership drought yesterday at Centenary Field, thrashing Gerringong 36-6 in a surprisingly lopsided grand final.The Gorillas avenged a golden point loss to Gerringong in the major semi-final and also repaid the Lions for last year's heart-breaking 21-20 Group 7 grand final defeat.Just about everybody was expecting a down-to-the-wire thriller, but the Gorillas were having none of it.After taking a 12-6 lead into half-time, Warilla wasted no time putting the Lions to the sword, scoring two tries in the first 12 minutes of the second half and silencing about 1500 Gerringong supporters.When the lead swelled to 30-6, some of those same fans headed for the exit.The Gorillas completed their most dominant performance of the season with their sixth try, ensuring they would not be grand final bridesmaids for a third straight season."We wanted it really bad and we got it," Warilla captain-coach Linken Hutchinson said."To be leading at half-time after running into a pretty stiff breeze in the first half probably won us the match. We got the wind behind us and sailed home in the end."We knew it would take a really disciplined effort because that's how you win grand finals, by being the most disciplined side, and that's what we prepared for. We were unbelieveable with our discipline today and really played with a lot of control. We had to play that good to win and lucky enough we did."It feels really good. It hasn't completely set in, but it will and we're really happy to win it. It's a good day for the Gorillas."Warilla's previous first grade premiership came in 1997."It's a long time coming for us. I'm so stoked," Gorillas prop and man of the match Alex Volkanovski said.As is usually the case with grand finals, an unsung hero emerged, with Warilla second-rower Luke Roberts scoring two crucial tries."They disallowed my third," Roberts said."I was pretty upset with that because I would've liked a hat-trick, but two will do me."Roberts said the parties around Warilla won't end quickly."I might have to take a couple of days off to celebrate," he said."It's been a long time coming. A lot of us have been through it twice so it's really good to get one over the line."It feels like nothing I've ever felt before. There's probably only two blokes that haven't been here for the full two years. We've stuck together and got through it and finally got one."The Gorillas opened the scoring with Andrew Diomei setting up a try for centre Ngatai Hetet.Nick Lazerevski hit the upright with his conversion attempt from the sideline, but Warilla were over again through Roberts five minutes later. Lazerevski hit the upright again but this time the ball fell over the cross-bar for a 10-0 lead.Lions interchange player Nathan Ford got his side on the board with a try under the posts before Lazerevski had the final say of the half with a penalty goal.Roberts re-ignited his team's charge with his second try and lock Mark Walsh went over to make it 24-6.Volkanovski was put into a hole on the left side and looked like a winger when he sprinted 55m to score."I was talking to a few of the boys and they didn't think I had the speed, and I didn't either," the stocky front-rower said."I was getting ready to pass it and then I thought 'Wait a sec, they're not going to catch me'. I was rapt to get a try in a grand final."Interchange forward Ryan Johnston put the icing on the cake with the final try, while Lazerevski converted again to complete a solid day with the boot (6/7)."We were off today. They were too good," Lions coach Mick Cronin said."We can't say much else than that."It wasn't the wind. We just always seemed to be a yard behind them. We spoke at half-time about coming back and playing quicker but it just wasn't there today. It was always going to be a problem after they got those early tries in the second half. "We've had a season with players missing in and out at different times, but they've hung in there. I've got no complaints about our efforts."

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