WIN Stadium has played host to plenty of thrilling finishes in its time, and it was the venue for one more at Saturday’s Illawarra and Group Seven junior rugby league grand finals.
Trailing 10-6 with just three minutes to go, Shellharbour crossed in the corner to level the scores in their first division 15 years grand final against Collegians.
With the conversion missed, the match went to extra-time as both teams traded chances to secure the victory.
As with any grand final, the stakes were high. But on this particular occasion, each team had something extra to play for. For Shellharbour it was an undefeated season. For Collies it was defending the title the team won as under 14s in 2017.
In the end it was man of the match Ben Lavender who stood up for Collies, kicking the match-winning field goal in golden point to secure an 11-10 victory.
Collegians coach David Riolo said there were some nervous moments, but he was proud of the way his players held their nerve.
“Both teams were very brave, neither team really deserved to lose,” Riolo said. “It could have gone either way, we knew we had the ability to win it and it just came down to a little bit of luck. They came up with an error and we were able to capitalise on that, with Ben putting the icing on the cake.”
In the day’s other grand finals, the Wests 16s became the first team to win their 13s, 14s, 15s and 16s grand finals in successive years by defeating Collegians 38-4.
Gerringong started the day on song, with a pair of impressive victories. The 13s first division side proved far too good for Shellharbour, taking out the grand final 32-6. Jarrod Tiyce was named man of the match.
The 14-year-olds then followed on from the 13s, defeating Dapto 22-14 in the 14s first division grand final, with Dylan Egan named man of the match. The win reversed an 18-10 loss to the Canaries in the major semi-final.
The division two titles were won by Milton Ulladulla (13s), Albion Park Oak Flats (14s), Milton Ulladulla (15s) and Stingrays (16s).