A gritty and determined Port Macquarie Sharks side has claimed the Group Three Rugby League Under-18.5s premiership as they held on for a 12-8 victory.
In a classic country game of footy, which featured big hits, tough carries and entertaining attack, both sides handled the ball well considering the wet conditions.
Captain Tom Brennan said the victory capped off a successful season for the club after they had claimed the minor premiership.
“It means everything,” he said.
“If you get the minor premiership it means nothing if you don’t win this one in the end.
“To win this one tops it off perfectly.”
Brennan said the performances of back rowers Max Ward and Harry Hanley set up the victory.
“They lifted us in the middle and changed the game completely,” he said.
“The boys lining up in defence, making the big hits that we had to and forcing the turnovers won us the game for sure.
“It’s awesome for the Sharks, they’re the best club in the world.”
The Pirates opened the scoring four minutes into the match as backrower Joel Dark barged his way over from close range.
However, the Sharks were quick to hit back as captain Tom Brennan showed his class and vision close to the line.
The dummyhalf attacked the blindside and fired a bullet pass to backrower Tyler Weatherly who fended off a would-be defender to give the minor premiers a 6-4 lead.
The two sides exchanged field territory and possession for the remainder of the half but were unable to make it count on the scoreboard.
Port Macquarie lifted their intensity to start the second half and were rewarded with their patience in attack when centre Mitch Evans showcased his speed to get on the outside of his opponent and stretch out to score.
The Sharks’ six-point lead was reduced minutes later when repeat infringements marched the Pirates down the field.
The Pirates swung the ball wide and winger Jake Saunders dove over in the corner to make it 10-8 with 14-minutes remaining in the contest.
There was some nervous moments towards the end of the contest for the Sharks but ultimately their desperation in defence proved the difference as the Pirates became frustrated.
Old Bar began to shoot themselves in the foot as their backrower Jared Wooster was sent to the sinbin with four-minutes left before a silly penalty in front of the sticks gifted the Sharks two points with two-minutes remaining.
The Sharks completed their final set and left 36 seconds left for Old Bar to attempt to produce a miracle.
The Pirates swung the ball from side-to-side after the siren had sounded and fittingly man of the match Harry Hanley dove on the loose ball to hand the Sharks the premiership.
Halfback Josh Dwyer steered the team around the park well while forwards Harry Hanley and Max Ward were superb in both attack and defence.
Fullback Tyrell Scott offered x-factor and created opportunities for his outside backs in attack.